Thursday, July 15, 2010

The fatal Bridge and Fungus

Bridges over bodies of water usually fascinate me with their variety of shapes, and of materials of which they are made. Yesterday, I was reminded of one bridge, a pedestrian temporary bridge that could certainly not be categorized as 'fascinating'. That bridge had collapsed on July 14, 1997 (yesterday was the 13th anniversary) causing the death of four people and serious injuries to sixty more. It happened at the 15th Maccabiah Games (a sort of Jewish Olympics held every four year in Israel) in the area of the sports stadium of the city of Ramat-Gan.

The temporary bridge placed over the nearby Yarkon river to allow athlethes and officials to enter the Ramat-Gan stadium for the opening ceremony march, collapsed as the second team of athletes, the australian team , was crossing it ( the first team was that of the austrians). The australians fell into the polluted water; other athletes and by standers jumped into the water to rescue the fallen. What was expected to be a big, exciting event was being spoiled by unneccessary deaths and injuries. The first day of the Maccabiah was one of deep mourning.

Sacha Elterman, 15 year old, was the most critical of the injured australians; during the years to follow, she underwent more than 30 brain and lung operations - and survived. Only one of the four dead athletes died as a result of the fall, the other three died as a result of the toxicity of the water (it was found upon investigation that the water contained a fatal fungus).

It appeared that the temporary bridge was constructed out of rusty metal pieces bound together with wire. Criminal charges were brought against the people involved in the design and building of this bridge . In 2005, eight years after the disaster, a permanent structure over the Yarkon river was built, and it was called 'The Bridge of Remembrance".

(The above picture from Wikipedia shows the athletes in the water under the collapsed bridge).


  1. What an unnecessary tragedy and breach of trust.

  2. Lets hope that the new bridge stands strong for many years, and lets hope that those who were responsible for the shoddiness of the first bridge will have the memory of their ineptitude forever planted in their minds.

  3. Hopefully those responsible got lengthy prison terms. In the States they would have probably been charged with negligent homicide.

  4. I didn't know this story, how tragic. I can only imagine what big news this must have been at the time.

  5. Your story are sad, indeed!
    I never heard until now about this accident. We should learn something from these accidents, but often we don't.

  6. This is quite sad. Imagine all the athletes having practiced hard and intending to earn a name for their country come and meet their end in an unexpected manner as this. Death when it comes when you least expect it and that too in a bizarre way as this, is definitely heart breaking and tragic.

    I am glad you bring news as this to our notice. I will remember this.

    Have a splendid weekend dear DUTA.

    Joy always,

  7. How sad this is. I wonder why there wasn't an inspection of this "bridge" before the athletes were allowed to use it. There is more blame to share here. Not only to those who built this, but to those who should have shut it down before it was ever used.

  8. It was a terrible incident and should not happen again. A lesson to be remembered.

    Have a wonderful weekend Duta.

    PS. I love Beethoven's 5th.

  9. Jennifer,

    You've summed it up perfecly in just one sentence. Thank you.


    Let's hope indeed that from bad things something good comes out, from negligence - responsability and coordination.

    Rocket Man,

    Welcome! Thanks for stopping by.
    I don't remember the length of their prison terms; I do remember that prior to their imprisonment, they all tried to shift the blame.

    Sue (Someone's Mom),

    Indeed, it was big news at the time. The disaster due to a chain of failures that could have been avoided, has especially shattered the world jewish community and its sportsmen,and ruined the reputation of the israelis as people one can rely upon.

    Internet business at home...

    Sounds like a good opportunity in life.

  10. robert,

    It was big news at the time, but Israel being a small country, not all the news here get the proper attention elsewhere.
    Yes, we definitely should learn from this tragic event, how to avoid recurrence of similar disasters in the future.

    Susan Deborah,

    "heartbreaking and tragic" are indeed the right words in this case. The games went on, but it has never been the same since. Israel has lost a lot of esteem as an organizer and host of events of that kind.


    Very sad indeed; the accident could have been avoided were it not for the chain of negligence.
    There were faults at all levels: the engineer, the contracting company, the organizers of the Maccabiah, etc..
    There was no proper inspection of the bridge before its usage.


    I agree to every word of your comment.
    I wish you too a wonderful weekend!

  11. Sweet Duta, ya always have the most interesting stories behind the story and this time you didn't disappoint. What a tragic accident to kick off a wonderful celebration. I hope the guilty parties were prosecuted to the fullest.

    Ya'll have a delightfully blessed weekend!!!

  12. That is really sad and such a shame. I'm glad the young girl has survived. Such a shame that such a wonderful event was ruined.

  13. That's terrible! How hard for everyone involved - as you said turning a celebration into a day of mourning...

  14. Hi Duta,

    Hope you are enjoying your summer! This post reminds me of why I feel uncomfortable on a bridge. What a horrible accident!

  15. Tragic! I don't recall hearing about this. We have so polluted our beautiful World. I, too, hope the corrupt people who used shoddy materials were prosecuted to the fullest.

  16. Nezzy,

    Glad you could leave the herpes shingles for a while to read posts and comment.
    Sadly, the tragic accident did "kick off" what was expected to be a wonderful sports event.


    'Such a shame',indeed. The young australian girl, now a young woman, is in many people's eyes, a great heroine from any angle one looks at her case.

    The Bug,

    There's no word strong enough to describe the tragedy: terrible, horrible, tragic, awful - these words fail to fully depict the catastrophy.

    Thank you for the viait and the comment.


    Our summer is hot and humid, but I do enjoy it in the evenings.
    May you never feel uncomfortable on a bridge!

    C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson,

    "We have so polluted our beautiful world" - so true! The pollution of the Gulf of Mexico waters has also reminded me of the Maccabiah tragedy. Most of the injuries of the australian athletes were as a result of the toxic water.

  17. Hey DUTA, thanks for the follow. It seems that I came here just at the right time. The ironic state of this post is that bridges are a symbol of hope and trust. Bridging the gap from one point to then find out this story, its clearly sad but also, tragic.

    Have you ever looked for any articles or media that was from this bridge? I wonder what side the media would have played.


  18. This is just heartbreaking. What are we doing to our beautiful planet?

    I just wanted to drop by and thank you for visiting and following my blog. I really, really appreciate it! I'm following you back. Cheers!!

  19. Duta,

    It seems so strange to me that our societies fail to recognize how important Nature is to our survival. Simple science from our childhoods reminds us that water exists only in a limited state...there is only so much, it's volume never changes, only its state. Once we pollute this very important commodity past Nature's ability to purify it we are doomed. People thoughtlessly flush unused medications down toilets, dump sewage and allow toxic wastes to enter our water system and then marvel at how many new, terrible diseases we are experiencing. All of us should take time to think about how our actions affect the world. Using glass and paper packaged products instead of plastics would be a good start. Hopefully it's not too late.

  20. What a sad and tragic story. What happened to the ones who built this bridge? Hope there was punishment indeed.

  21. The Insatiable Host,

    You're right about the irony - bridges are indeed a symbol of hope and trust.
    There were no sides here. Everyone, including the Media, was with the casualties, and against those whose failures had brought about the tragedy.

    Anything fits a naked man,

    Welcome to my little blog! Thank you for your kind words.

    C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson,

    Thank you for your highly informative comment. We should indeed stop our thoughtless actions that cause pollution which in turn brings about terrible diseases.


    As if it happened yesterday. Such a disaster is hard to forget. All those involved in the bridge affair were punished , but I'm afraid the punishment was not heavy enough.

  22. Hello again,

    This is really terrible. I too hadn't heard about this until now. It is very saddening to read.

    I popped over to tell you about a little competition I am having and I would love for you to enter if you get chance.
    Thank you.

  23. Hi Duta,
    It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same! I had not heard of this tragedy, I am sorry so many were victims of shoddy workmanship.
    What a shame, also, that the water was polluted with that fungus...

    Thanks for coming by!

  24. How tragic that was. And even sadder that the rest could have survived had the water not been polluted.

    Bridges have always scared me, Duta. When I was a girl, we had to cross an old wooden bridge called, Rome bridge, to get to the creek. I always sucked in my breath, and tightened my eyes shut until we were across. As far as I know, that old rickety bridge is still standing.

  25. Pennycones,

    Glad to hear from you. Thanks for the info. I'll sure check your site to learn about the competition.


    Thank you for stopping by.


    I like the opening of your comment: "..the more things change the more they stay the same". It seems pollution and bad workmanship never change.


    Thanks for sharing your personal experience with the old wooden bridge.

  26. To survive the fall to die from the fungus is too awful to fathom. Peace

  27. Indeed, how ironic and tragic "to survive the fall to die from the fungus..".
    Your comment is clear and sharp as usual. Thank you.

  28. ****,
    Thank you for considering my post a good one.


    Thank you for your comment.

  29. How awful Duta! Bridges fascinate me as well, but they also frighten me. What a terrible beginning to those games.

  30. Alicia,

    Yes, Alicia, come to think of it, bridges are both fascinating and frightening - two sides of a coin.

    Indeed a terible beginning.