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A houseboat became loose and drifted against a bridge in Maastricht last night. According to Rijkswaterstaat, the bridge is severely damaged and there is a risk of collapse. That danger has not yet passed, but the situation is stable, the South Limburg Safety Region reports. The fire brigade returned to the barracks. Police remain present in the area.
The houseboat came loose from the bank on the Stuwweg. This is the place where yesterday part of a so-called spillway dam was washed away. This causes the water to flow into the Maas at an accelerated pace. The detached houseboat was carried away by the current and then hit a nearby bridge. Both the bridge and the houseboat were damaged.
The owner of the houseboat reacted shocked:
There was no one left on the houseboat. Due to the damaged spillway dam on the Stuwweg, the residents of the detached houseboat, like the residents of other surrounding houseboats, had already been evacuated yesterday, reports 1Limburg. It is not clear how the houseboat came loose, which is still being investigated by Rijkswaterstaat.
Due to the damage, the bridge is temporarily closed. The collision caused one of the pillars in the middle of the bridge to collapse. “There is a risk of collapse and that is why the bridge is not passable for local traffic. We are currently mapping out exactly what the damage is,” said Rijkswaterstaat.
In addition, the hole in the spillway dam has become larger, according to Rijkswaterstaat. “We are doing everything we can to close the gap as quickly as possible.”
For safety reasons, the mayor of Maastricht has declared an emergency ordinance in the area surrounding the bridge, which means that only emergency services are allowed to enter the indicated area for the time being. According to the municipality, the area is now too dangerous for residents. In addition, the municipality wants to prevent disaster tourists from visiting the bridge.
Mayor Wim Hillenaar says that the bridge is currently too unstable to use. The Ministry of Defense is examining whether an emergency bridge is an option.
The mayor also spoke to the residents of the evacuated houseboats. According to him, they are very shocked by what happened. The residents had to leave the boats and were only able to take a few items with them. They cannot return to their houseboats for the time being. “It really hurts people,” he says 1Limburg.
The other houseboats are extra well secured and are also being monitored. “The exciting question is whether that is enough,” says Hillenaar. “Of course, the residents also feel that tension.”
Hole closed with stones
Repair work on the spillway dam has now started. The plan now is to close the gap with large amounts of stones. These stones are packed in heavy nets, director May of the Kerkhof of Rijkswaterstaat Limburg told the regional broadcaster.
If that approach does not work, there are other solutions, says Van de Kerkhof. “Then you should consider an emergency barrier to close the entrance to the canal or lower containers filled with stones into the water.”
According to Van de Kerkhof, it is currently difficult to determine whether the bridge can be saved. “We don’t yet know the structural safety of the bridge, but it is certainly impassable at the moment,” she says. “There is still the possibility that the bridge will collapse. We have also warned about that. We are now going to see whether that will happen on its own and whether we can possibly prevent it.”
Reached the highest point on the Meuse
The water in the Maas is still rising slightly. The discharge from the Belgian Ardennes is now decreasing, but that from France is increasing.
On balance, the discharge at the Sint Pieter measuring point in Maastricht will increase slightly, possibly to a level of 1,800 cubic meters per second, between now and tomorrow afternoon. The discharge this morning was 1700 cubic meters per second.
The post first appeared on nos.nl