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Crash bridge warning signs 'were not faulty'

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Emergency services examining the car wreck. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
07:14 CET+01:00
UPDATED: All warning lights were working on the bridge where a British indie band crashed to their deaths, Swedish authorities have said.

It remained unclear on Wednesday what caused  the bridge accident at Södertälje, near Stockholm, when a car broke through two barriers and plunged off a canal bridge, killing the four members of British indie band Viola Beach and their manager.

Citing a witness, British tabloid The Sun claimed that the warning lights on the bridge were faulty, with some being turned off at the time of the accident. But a representative from road authority Trafikverket told The Local the reports were wrong.

"They have the wrong information. This was an old light which isn't supposed to function. It hasn't been working for three years," said Joachim Jakobsson, who is responsible for Stockholm bridge openings.

He said that the broken sign had long since been replaced with a new one.

"We've put up a new sign with lights, which is working, approximately 900 metres from the bridge opening."

"All the lights are working. We have logs in the bridge system which say that all the signals, all the signs and lights were working, and also the police checked that everything is working around the bridge opening on Monday," he added.


Emergency services at the bridge on Saturday. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

On Tuesday, Swedish road authorities for the first time released still images taken by traffic cameras around the time of the crash early on Saturday.

One of the pictures from Trafikverket's CCTV cameras published by Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet late on Tuesday captures the moment immediately before the accident. The band's car does not appear in the photo from 01.57am, which shows only a quiet bridge without sign of what is about to happen.

The exact time of the accident has not been established, but after looking at damages to the bridge Sjöfartsverket – Sweden's maritime authorities – has suggested the car hit the barriers at around 2am, when the bridge had been raised one-and-a-half to two metres to allow a vessel to pass underneath.

Another still image shows traffic again driving across the bridge at 2.17am. By then, the car is already in the water and the ship has passed. This is when the first call came in to the police.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing, but it remains unclear what caused the crash. And video footage from 24-hour CCTV cameras on the bridge was never salvaged by authorities.

“There's rolling tape, but it's not saved automatically. You can rewind the tape 24 hours and save it like that. I can confirmed that that has not been done,” spokesperson Beisi Sundin told Aftonbladet.

Initial reports earlier this week suggested that the bridge was about to shut when Viola Beach passed the barriers, but authorities later confirmed that it was in fact being opened for an oil tanker on its way to Södertälje.

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Swedish broadcaster SVT revealed that crew on board the ship had seen the car fall but believed it was a large chunk of snow dropping from the bridge.

After contacting Sjöfartsverket, which was not yet aware of the accident at the time, they received permission to carry on and ended up sailing right above the wreckage.

The Swedish Accident Investigation Authority, the top national agency in charge of heading inquiries on fatal accidents, said on Tuesday that it was considering opening a probe into the crash.

"The information we have seen does not indicate that there was anything wrong with the bridge, but we've only seen that information in the media. So now we're going to get the basic facts so that we can decide whether to go ahead or not," spokesperson Johan Gustafsson told SVT.

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