5 injured in Johor Baru after roof covering pedestrian bridge ripped off in thunderstorm

Motorists gathering to look at the collapsed roof and railings of a pedestrian bridge that flew off due to a thunderstorm along the Pasir Gudang Highway in Johor Baru, Malaysia, on Oct 12, 2014. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Motorists gathering to look at the collapsed roof and railings of a pedestrian bridge that flew off due to a thunderstorm along the Pasir Gudang Highway in Johor Baru, Malaysia, on Oct 12, 2014. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A 40m-long roof covering a concrete pedestrian bridge located at the busy Pasir Gudang Highway in Johor Baru was torn off from its foundation during a thunderstorm.

The impact of the collapsing rooftop, with its railings still intact, injured five people.

A driver who only wanted to be known as Mr Tan, in his 30s, said he was heading towards Tampoi to pick up his wife at 4.30pm on Sunday.

"I heard a loud bang, and the next thing I knew, something heavy had fallen on my car roof, narrowly missing my head.

"Then I saw the whole roof of the bridge in front of me and I quickly broke my car window to escape," he said at the scene.

The damaged rooftop blocked the road, which caused a congestion which lasted for three hours, including at roads leading to Pasir Gudang and Skudai.

Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) engineering department director Sulaiman Mohamad Taib said that about 25 personnel members from various government agencies were rushed to the scene to clear the debris.

"The 40m-long bridge rooftop flew about 50m away from its foundation due to a storm that hit several areas in the state," he said, adding that the bridge was built in 2008.

Losses due to the damaged bridge was estimated at RM100,000 (S$39,147).

Johor Public Works, Rural and Regional Development executive council chairman Hasni Mohammad said the incident was the first of its kind in the state.

"A large billboard which was installed on the bridge could have contributed to the collapse.

"We estimate that about RM300,000 will be needed to rebuild it. The bridge had undergone two safety checks every year, as required in the SOP," he added.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia construction research centre director Mahmood Md Tahir said the billboard was not supported, and faced pressure from the wind.

"There were no support at the back of the billboard plus with pressure coming from the wind, it would surely collapsed.

"The engineer of the bridge should take into consideration the load of the wind that hit the billboard," Dr Tahir said.

Datuk Hasni said the authorities will check similar bridges in the state to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.

He added that the law requires companies to submit their applications to the local authorities before they could install billboards on pedestrian bridges.