GUANGZHOU, July 15 (Xinhua) - Shi Guide, a captain of a cargo vessel blamed for a bridge collapse in south China's Guangdong Province, stood trial Thursday on charges of traffic law violations which resulted in multiple deaths.
During the accident, four vehicles carrying seven people and two road workers plunged into the Xijiang river in Guangdong on the early morning of June 15, 2007. Eight people were killed in the accident.
Details indicate that in heavy fog, the cargo vessel Nanguiji 035, traveling along the river ploughed into a section of the 1,600-meter-long Jiujiang bridge that spans the river, causing part of it to collapse.
Investigations have shown that Shi, 43, captain of the Nanguiji 035, was responsible for the accident, said Hu Xing, the procurator with the People's Procuratorate of the Haizhu District in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong.
Hu said Shi was negligent in continuing to operate the vessel despite heavy fog and even did so after he found the vessel had deviated from the main channel, following a collision with a navigation marker. This eventually led to the collision with the bridge on the Xijiang River, a tributary of the Pearl River, near Jiujiang in Foshan.
But Shi defended himself in court, saying he had changed direction after realizing that the vessel no longer was traveling down the main channel. "The bridge collapsed first and then hit my vessel," Shi said.Xu Guangyu, Shi' s lawyer, said the main body of the ship, after being salvaged from the river, showed no signs of a collision.
Further, said Xu, people on the vessel when the accident happened did not feel any jolt until the bridge collapsed onto the vessel. "Besides, due to the heavy fog, there was no witness who actually saw the ship collide with the bridge," Xu said.
Shi, from Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, was arrested in August 2007.
Shi obtained his ship license in 1998 and qualified as captain in 2003. He has been captain of the Nanguiji 035 since 2005. Investigators said at the trial that the collapse had nothing to do with the quality of the construction of the bridge, which opened to traffic in 1988.
A court spokesman said it was unlikely that there would be a quick verdict as the trial might last for days.