China opens world's longest sea bridge near Qingdao

media captionThousands of drivers are expected to use the bridge every day

China has opened the world's longest sea bridge to general traffic.

The bridge spans 42.4km (26.3 miles) to connect the eastern coastal city of Qingdao to the suburb of Huangdao, in Jiaozhou Bay.

State media say the bridge passed construction tests on Monday and it opened to traffic on Thursday, along with an undersea tunnel.

The bridge would easily cross the English Channel, which is 32km wide at its narrowest point.

It is 4km longer than the previous record-holder, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in the US state of Louisiana.

It took four years to build and state media say the project cost over 10bn yuan ($1.55bn; £970m). The bridge is supported on more than 5,200 pillars.

It is expected to carry more than 30,000 cars a day, and will reportedly cut the commuting time between Qingdao and Huangdao by up to 30 minutes.

However, this cross-sea bridge may not hold on to the record as the world's longest.

In 2009, China began work on a bridge linking southern Guangdong province, China's main manufacturing hub, with Hong Kong and Macau.

However, only 35km of that structure - set to open in 2016 - will actually be above water.