A WOODEN bridge collapsed as a truck carrying school supplies crossed, killing three people in the gas rich Hela region of Southern Highlands province.
The truck was transporting supplies for Koroba Secondary School and was crossing the Yawa river bridge on Sunday.
Three passengers, trapped inside the front cabin of the truck, drowned after the bridge gave way and the truck fell into the river and sank.
Several others received injuries.
Locals say the wood was rotting and described the bridge as “an accident waiting to happen”.
The eight-tonne truck was loaded with over K60,000 worth of food and basic supplies to begin the school year.
The dead include a two- year old, a young girl who was the toddler’s babysitter and an elderly man.
The truck was returning from Mt Hagen with the school supplies and the passengers.
Koroba rural police station commander Sgt Henry Biape yesterday confirmed the accident.
Police said the timber of the bridge was rotten and the driver did not notice that when he drove across resulting in the collapse of the entire bridge.
Some of the passengers who were at the back of the truck got smashed underwater by the weight of the truck while other managed to swim to safety or jumped off before the falling truck hit the water.
Koroba- Lake Kopiago MP John Kekeno was informed of the accident and organised immediate relief assistance with a local business house in Tari to re-supply the school with K40,000 worth of food and basic materials.
It is not known whether the incident would affect classes at the school.