Rescuers recovered more bodies on Sunday from the debris of an under-construction bridge which collapsed in the Chambal river in the Kota district of Rajasthan, taking the death toll in the accident up to 30. Six rescue teams comprising policemen, labourers, Army jawans and naval teams were engaged in the search operations.
About five-dozen workers are now presumed dead after being buried for three days under the rubble of the partially-submerged bridge that caved in on Thursday evening, on the proposed East-West Corridor, 20 km from Kota city.
According to the police sources, the rescue teams have shifted their focus from looking for survivors to pulling the bodies out of the debris by using heavy equipment. Labourers working at the partially constructed bridge were trapped under the debris and drowned in the deep river waters.
Four persons were still admitted to Fortis Hospital in Kota with serious injuries, even as the police said there were negligible chances of anyone surviving in the mangled structure of the massive bridge, which was being constructed at a height of 50 metres, upstream of Chambal.
Police said 27 of the bodies had so far been identified. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the State government on Sunday started the disbursement of financial assistance to the next of kin of the deceased as well as to those injured in the accident.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot refuted a charge of Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vasundhara Raje that the State government had not promptly launched the rescue and relief work at the accident site. He said Ms. Raje ought to know that this was an NHAI project, which had started during the previous BJP regime in the State.
“Ms. Raje is the only complainant who made this remark during his visit to Kota. This is ridiculous,” Mr. Gehlot told reporters here. He said the district administration was capable of taking up disaster management on a war footing and there was no shortage of funds for any emergency.