Dozens of Malaysia Children Feared Drowned in River

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Twenty-two Malaysian schoolchildren were feared drowned after they plunged into a river while crossing a bridge that collapsed during their camping trip, officials said Tuesday.

Police, firefighters and emergency services personnel were scouring the Kampar River where the students went missing late Monday, said Zambry Abdul Kadir, the chief minister of northern Perak state.

"They are looking for the bodies," Zambry told The Associated Press.

The students, who were all under 13 years of age, were swept away by swift currents, the national news agency Bernama reported. About 20 other people who were on the suspension bridge were saved after they managed to cling to it.

K. Mathivanan, 12, said the bridge had been swaying and abruptly collapsed after some students jumped on it.

"Suddenly we were thrown into the river, but I managed to hold on to a rope," Mathivanan told Bernama. "The currents were strong but I pulled my body up" to the shore.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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Associated Press

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