A bridge on a major expressway in central China collapsed, leaving the twisted remains of cars and trucks scattered among the rubble as state media reported at least eight deaths.

There was confusion over the toll, with the official news agency Xinhua saying eight people were dead and 13 injured after a fireworks-laden truck exploded, sending a long section of the viaduct crashing to the ground.

State-run China National Radio initially said 26 people had been killed, but the report could not later be found on its website, after local authorities in Henan province called the figure "inexplicable".

State broadcaster CCTV quoted nearby residents as saying they heard a loud booming noise, although it added the cause of the collapse was unclear and it was not known if the truck exploded before or after the bridge collapsed.


Pictures showed tangled wreckage beneath the bridge, including three upturned trucks, as rescue workers in orange uniforms scaled the wreckage.

CCTV said on its website at least 25 vehicles were involved in the incident.

A crowd of people peered at the debris through thick hazy fog as another lorry teetered on the mangled edge of the bridge's collapsed section.

A new bridge appeared to be under construction right next to the collapsed section.

The bridge near the city of Sanmenxia is on the G30 expressway, the longest road in China, which stretches for nearly 4400km from China's western border with Kazakhstan to the eastern Yellow Sea.

It stands 30m above the ground, media reported.

Many of China's roads are packed as the country gears up for the Lunar New Year on February 10, when hundreds of millions of people travel back to their hometowns in the world's largest annual human migration.