22 killed as flyover collapses on to congested Kolkata road
TRAGEDY Under-construction flyover had missed several deadlines; political blame game begins
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.
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