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The death toll in the Meizhou highway collapse has climbed to 48 

Authorities are still continuing with rescue efforts amid challenging conditions, with the number of fatalities expected to rise.

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UPDATED: 03 May 2024, 3:04 pm

The number of people killed after a highway collapsed in the Guangdong city of Meizhou rose to 48 on Thursday, multiple media outlets report. 

Some 30 people sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the horrific accident, which occurred at around 2 am on Wednesday after an 18-metre portion of the four-lane Meizhou-Dabu collapsed down a slope, taking 23 vehicles with it. 

At a press conference yesterday, local authorities said the death toll could rise further, pending the results of DNA testing to verify the identity of three other individuals. 

According to the mayor of Meizhou, Wang Hui, search and rescue efforts are still taking place, although rescuers were facing challenges due to the wet and muddy conditions ​​at the site and the huge amount of soil that cars are buried under. 

[See more: Emergency vehicles will soon be able to cross GBA boundaries]

Cranes, excavators, dogs and other devices are being used to find any possible survivors.

Authorities have yet to publicly announce the exact cause of the accident, but the constant rain that has been battering the area is thought to have played a role.

One geotechnical engineer who spoke with local media, in an interview cited by the South China Morning Post, said, “it [the collapse] may have been triggered by the poor drainage after prolonged rainfall, leading to the continuous deformation and expansion of the parts prone to cracks, ultimately leading to the collapse.” 

This is not the first time that a section of the 6 billion yuan (US$828 million) highway has given way, with reports indicating that two sections of the road collapsed last April as a result of persistent rain. 

UPDATED: 03 May 2024, 3:04 pm

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