Work to try to remove the bus that crashed on Saturday evening in Cerdedo-Cotobade (Pontevedra) from the bed of the Lérez river began on Tuesday morning. The first thing will be to carry out the measurements to assess whether the viaduct through which it fell is capable of supporting the load on the infrastructure which will involve lifting the bus 29 meters high.
Since 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, traffic has been cut off near the Pedre bridge, on which the Monbus company bus in which nine people were traveling crashed on Christmas Eve, seven of whom died in the event. After the search operation concluded with the location of the body of a 50-year-old woman on Monday morning, The tasks now focus on the removal of the bus, which remains on the river bed in a narrow area of the course of the Lérez.
For this reason, the main way to remove the damaged bus – the analysis of which will be essential to discover the causes of the tragic event – is to use a crane to lift the vehicle 29 meters to the bridge. In the morning, operators and experts linked to the Ministry of Transport installed plates along the viaduct to distribute the load. Bridge stress tests will then take place which, according to sources consulted by Europa Press, could sink up to 15 centimeters due to the force involved in the complicated operation. As the government delegate, José Miñones, explained last Monday, the main option is to recover the bus in its entirety but, in the event that this is not possible, it is not excluded that he will have to resort to its split.
The drop in the flow of the Lérez River after the cessation of heavy rains last week would facilitate that, in the event that the load tests are satisfactory, the lifting operation could be attempted this Tuesday. The objective is not to delay the operation given the forecasts for the return of rains to the area this Wednesday.
Since Monday morning, firefighters and agents of the Mountain Civil Guard have been alighting on the bus to carry out tasks in preparation for the evacuation of the vehicle from the river. Professionals cut down trees and removed parts of the bus body to lighten its weight and also prevent water from pooling inside the cabin.
The government delegate, José Miñones, explained on Tuesday that a statement will be taken from the two survivors -the driver and a passenger-, while a reconstruction of what happened will be carried out by a specialized group of the Civil Guard arrived from Mérida -called the Traffic Accident Reconstruction Team (ERAT)-. To questions from the press in Santiago, the government delegate indicated that in these tasks the information that the recovery of the Lérez river bus can provide will be important, including the tachograph to know the speed at which it is moving.
Regarding the cause, Miñones points out that “it can be multiple or simply climatic”, since “the weather conditions were not good” that day, all hypotheses being open. “We will let the specialized unit work, and as soon as we have this information, we will transfer it,” he adds. For all this, he calls for “prudence” and “patience”, as well as to let the Civil Guard work. Remember that these are “time-consuming” jobs. “Therefore, until the next few weeks, we will not have this information to know the exact causes of what happened,” he says.
The accident happened around 9.20 p.m. last Saturday, Christmas Eve, when a Monbus company bus, on the regular line between Lugo and Vigo, plunged into the river at kilometer 67.5 of the N-541 , in the parish of Pedre, the a bridge of about 35 meters high.
Two of the deceased were rescued the very night of the event, with a strong storm and through a “lifeline”, because it was very difficult and dangerous to get to the bus. Four other victims were located on Sunday and the seventh died on Monday.
Shortly after the crash, emergency services rescued the bus driver alive, who was transferred to Hospital Clínico de Santiago and has since been discharged. The man tested negative for alcohol and drug tests.. A woman was also saved alive, who was evacuated to Montecelo Hospital in Pontevedra.
It was a driver who passed through the area shortly after the accident who alerted 112 first, seeing the broken bridge railing. Shortly after, the ER also received the surviving passenger’s alert call from inside the buslaunching the means of rescue.