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VLADIVOSTOK, January 11 (Itar-Tass) — The damage from a recent fire on the bridge over the Zolotoi Rog (Golden Horn) Bay in Vladivostok is more than 14 million roubles. The fire damaged not only the wooden structures of the base, but also structural elements of the bridge, senior aide to the head of the regional investigation department of the Russian Investigative Committee (SK) Avrora Rimskaya said on Wednesday. According to her, the investigation finds that the most probable cause of the fire could be violation of safety rules during welding.
“The criminal investigation initiated under Article 216, part one of the RF Criminal Code – ‘Violation of safety rules during construction works’ continues,” Rimskaya said.
The fire at the bridge that is under construction in the centre of Vladivostok started on December 12 in the evening and was burning for more than a day. Wood shuttering of the concrete span on the 12th pillar of the bridge trestlework on the southern shore of the bay on the Churkin Peninsula at a height of 64 metres was ablaze. The total area of ··the fire reached 500 square metres. A large team was involved in the extinguishing efforts: 167 people and 38 vehicles. The fire was localized only by the middle of the night, and the watering of the bridge structures and liquidation of the smouldering pockets continued also in the morning. According to the rescuers, nobody was injured. The fire liquidation efforts have affected the transport situation on the Churkin Peninsula and the work of some companies. After the fire many roads were frozen and traffic in a number of streets was blocked.
An interdepartmental commission comprising representatives of the Ministry of Regional Development of Russia, Primorsky Territory Administration, Rostekhnadzor, the Emergencies Ministry (EMERCOM), the Prosecutor's Office and the Federal Security Service (FSB) also conducts its own investigation. By the end of January it will make an accurate conclusion about the causes of the fire, as well how the blaze could have affected the design of the bridge and what measures are needed to complete the construction of the facility.
The bridge over the Zolotoi Rog Bay is one of the facilities that are to be completed in Vladivostok for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum’s summit that the city will host in 2012. The structure will be part of a new transport system of the regional centre of the Primorsky Territory. At present, the construction of the bridge is entering its final stage. In February, the builders are going to make the connection of the channel span and finish installation of the cable-stayed system. It was planned to open the bridge for traffic in summer 2012.
According to the Far Eastern Directorate of the Regional Development Ministry, the construction works are currently carried out strictly on schedule. Over 1,000 people work daily on the facility, all the operations are carried out in a round the clock regime. The construction and assembly work is carried out both in the pylons building and in the installation of steel structures, the cable-stayed system and other sections of the bridge.
Last December, RF Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during his live Q&A TV session instructed the Director General of the contractor company, Viktor Grebnev, to carefully check whether the fire has damage the structure. Grebnev assured the prime minister that, according to preliminary data, the fire caused only cosmetic damage, and the bridge will be commissioned on schedule.
Earlier, Alexander Yakovlev, First Deputy Director General of the Pacific Bridge-Building Company – the general contractor of the construction, said at a press conference that the fire on the bridge over the Zolotoi Rog Bay in Vladivostok will not affect the schedule of the facility’s commissioning, According to him, the visual inspection allows us to make a conclusion that the fire has not damaged the main structures of the bridge and its cable-stayed system. “No damage has been inflicted by the fire on the cable-stayed structures. The anchor span is in perfect condition,” said Yakovlev, noting that the restoration work on the affected section will begin this evening. Also, the company’s deputy director general said that the exact cause of the fire will be named in about a week after the facility is examined by experts. He noted that all the safety rules were observed, and the most likely cause of the fire was the so-called “human factor.”
The bridge over the Zolotoi Rog Bay will become part of a new transport system of the regional centre of the Primorsky Territory and will link Vladivostok’s centre with the city’s Pervomaisky district on the Churkin Peninsula.
Vladivostok is the administrative centre of Russia’s Primorsky Territory, Russia, situated at the head of the Golden Horn Bay, not far from Russia’s borders with China and North Korea. The population of the city, according to the preliminary results of the 2010 Census, is 592,069, down from 594,701 recorded in the 2002 Census. The city is the home port of the Russian Pacific Fleet and the largest Russian port on the Pacific Ocean.
In 2012, Vladivostok will host the 24th APEC Summit. In preparation for the event, the infrastructure of the city is being renovated and improved. Two giant cable-stayed bridges are currently under construction in Vladivostok – the Zolotoi Rog bridge over the Zolotoi Rog Bay in the centre of the city, and the Russky Island Bridge from the mainland to Russky Island, where the summit will take place. The latter bridge will become the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world upon completion.
The proposal put forward for Russia to hold the 2012 summit on Russky Island, which was a closed military zone during the Soviet-era, was confirmed at the end of the APEC Australia 2007 summit in Sydney, Australia. At a press conference in Sydney, Sergey Darkin, the governor of the Primorsky Territory, estimated the cost of hosting the summit at 147.5 billion roubles, 50 percent more than previous estimates. The construction of infrastructure serving the summit, by Darkin experts’ estimates, would aid the economic development of the Russian Far East and would see more than a six-fold increase of the Gross Regional Product of the Primorsky Territory by 2020.