Washington, Jun 13 (EFE).- The driver of the tanker truck that burst into flame underneath a highway overpass on US Interstate 95 near Philadelphia was found dead in the wreckage, local media reported Monday.
The incident occurred about 6:20 am on Monday when the driver of the tanker truck evidently lost control of the vehicle on a curving stretch of road under the overpass, or bridge, and in the ensuing crash the tank ruptured, causing the thousands of gallons of gasoline it had been transporting to gush out over the roadway, and the vehicle burst into flame.
Philadelphia Fire Chief Derek Bowmer had said Sunday that nobody near the crash site had been injured in the ensuing intense fire, but on Monday – after the flames were out and authorities were searching the charred wreckage – they found the remains of a body in the vehicle, local 6ABC television reported.
The channel said that the truck had been transporting 8,500 gallons of gasoline and the driver’s remains were removed from the truck cab on Monday morning.
Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Michael Carroll said that, according to preliminary information, the driver lost control of the vehicle on the curve and it flipped over, whereupon the intense fire broke out, ultimately weakening and melting the northbound lanes of the overpass and causing them to collapse.
Pennsylvania State Police spokesman Myles Snyder said Monday that a body had been found in the wreckage, but he provided no further details.
Expectations are that the overpass that collapsed in the crash and fire will have to be completely demolished, which will take four or five days, and then rebuilt, work that local authorities say will begin “soon” but take months to complete.
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said Monday that his department will provide full support for the rebuilding efforts during remarks at the American Council of Engineering Companies conference in Washington DC.
He said the collapse of the bridge would slow down passenger traffic and significantly affect supply chains.
The highway where the crash occurred – I-95, which runs along the East Coast for 3,096 km (1,920 miles) – is one of the busiest US travel routes, linking the main cities along the US East Coast between Miami and the far northeastern state of Maine, with millions of drivers and thousands of commercial vehicles using portions of it each day.
Local 6ABC news reported that an average of 160,000 vehicles pass over the now-collapsed bridge each day.