"If left unrepaired these bridges may crumble at any time, wreaking economic havoc and possibly claiming human lives," it said.
 
Officials expect the toll from Monday's bridge
accident in Hunan province to rise [EPA]
The 320-metre concrete bridge being built across the Jiantuo river in Hunan province was scheduled for completion later this month.
 
It collapsed as workers were removing scaffolding from its facade, the Xinhua news agency said.
 
Some 400 police officers were deployed to the scene, while bulldozers and rescue workers were picking through a massive pile of debris stretching between two hills at the banks of the river.
 
The authorities were investigating the accident, said Xinhua.
 
In June, a bridge collapsed in the southern province of Guangdong when a cargo vessel loaded with sand rammed into it, killing nine people.
 
Yang Shunzhong, a witness to Monday's incident, said he saw bodies of construction workers and passers-by lying on the road, and blood everywhere.
 
"A lot of women and children were on the scene, crying and looking for their families or friends," he said.

Source: Agencies