China driver fined 100 years' income over bridge collapse

BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese truck driver was fined 2.7 million yuan (S$550,935) - 100 years' average income for city dwellers - and jailed for three years after his overloaded vehicle caused a bridge to collapse, reports said on Thursday.

Zhang Wenjun's sand-laden lorry weighed 160 tonnes when he tried to cross a concrete bridge in Huairou on the outskirts of Beijing and the structure gave way, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The Intermediate People's Court in the capital imposed the fine on Zhang, reducing his original fine of 15.6 million yuan levied by a lower court, Xinhua said.

According to official statistics, the average income for Chinese urban residents stood at 26,959 yuan in 2012.

Zhang's wife said the family depends solely on him and that he has a son, daughter and mother to support, adding that they cannot afford to pay the fine, the Beijing Times newspaper said.

The case has triggered wide controversy on the Chinese Internet, with many suspicious that poor quality construction and maintenance could have been responsible for the accident in July 2011.

Problems with infrastructure often make headlines in Chinese newspapers, with corruption regularly alleged to be a factor.

One poster on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, said the sentence "will be mocked by people for 10,000 thousand years".

Another added: "I think the bridge is probably made of bean curd."

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