22 killed as fly­over col­lapses on to con­gested Kolkata road

TRAGEDY Un­der-con­struc­tion fly­over had missed sev­eral dead­lines; po­lit­i­cal blame game be­gins

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dent letters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

An un­der-con­struc­tion fly­over col­lapsed in a con­gested Kolkata mar­ket on Thurs­day, killing at least 22 peo­ple and trap­ping hun­dreds un­der­neath giant steel frames and con­crete slabs. Around 250 me­tres of the 2.2 kilo­me­tre-long Vivekananda Road fly­over crashed onto dense traf­fic around 12.30pm near one of Kolkata’s most im­por­tant busi­ness dis­tricts, Burrabazar. The of­fi­cial death toll was 19.

Close cir­cuit cam­era footage showed peo­ple, cars, buses, au­torick­shaws and hawk­ers get­ting crushed as the mas­sive con­crete struc­ture crashed on the busy street un­der­neath.

A bloody hand from un­der a girder ges­tured for help as peo­ple handed over wa­ter bot­tles to sur­vivors pinned un­der­neath.

At the Cal­cutta Med­i­cal Col­lege Hospital (CMCH), blood cov­ered the en­tire floor as peo­ple fran­ti­cally looked for familiar faces among the dead and in­jured.

“It is noth­ing but an act of God. So far in 27 years we have con­structed sev­eral num­ber of bridges... it never hap­pened,” said K Pan­duranga Rao of the Hy­der­abad- based IVRCL, the com­pany build­ing the fly­over.

Lo­cal res­i­dents said cast­ing was done on a por­tion of the col­lapsed struc­ture on Wed­nes­day night. Police sealed the of­fices of IVRCL and reg­is­tered an FIR at the Posta police sta­tion.

Ex­perts warned that the toll could mount and clear­ing de­bris may take sev­eral days as cranes to lift heavy con­crete slabs hadn’t ar­rived hours af­ter the ac­ci­dent. Res­cuers had pulled out more than 80 peo­ple till 10 pm.

“We can­not say when the de­bris will be cleared and the res­cue op­er­a­tions will be over… We have been able to res­cue, or ex­tract, very lit­tle of what lo­cals and eye­wit­nesses told us are buried un­der the rub­ble,” said Supratim Sarkar, joint com­mis­sioner (head­quar­ters) of Kolkata Police.

Au­thor­i­ties rushed 500 army men and Na­tional Dis­as­ter Re­sponse Force per­son­nel to help lo­cal police res­cue pas­sen­gers from buses and taxis un­der the de­bris. “Shocked & sad­dened by col­lapse of un­der con­struc­tion fly- over in Kolkata. Took stock of the situation & res­cue op­er­a­tions,” PM Naren­dra Modi tweeted.

West Ben­gal chief min­is­ter Ma­mata Ban­er­jee rushed to the spot and sought to shift the blame e for the dis­as­ter to the erst­while e Left Front that was in power when n con­struc­tion be­gan in 2009.

CON­TIN­UED ON P11 1

RE­LATED RE­PORTS, P13 3

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