1 killed in Kolkata bridge collapse

Broken link: Vehicles stuck on the collapsed section of the bridge in Kolkata on Tuesday evening.  

At least one person was killed and several people were feared trapped as a large chunk of the Majerhat Bridge — a railway overbridge — on the Diamond Harbour Road in Kolkata collapsed on Tuesday evening.

The bridge, located in south-west Kolkata, is one of the major arterial roads that connects the neighbourhood of Behala to the rest of the city and has heavy movement of traffic round the clock.

This is the second major incident of bridge collapse in the city in the past two years: in March 2016, a portion of the under-construction Vivekananda flyover in central Kolkata had come crashing, killing 27 people.

Shacks below

Tuesday’s accident took place at 4.30 p.m. when a segment of the bridge that measured about 250 ft collapsed, bringing down one minibus, five cars, and three motorbikes. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee confirmed one death, but the casualties are likely to increase as labourers working in an adjacent Metro Rail site had built shacks under the bridge.

Till late on Tuesday evening, rescue workers were trying to crawl through the narrow gaps in the debris to rescue those trapped underneath. “Is there anyone there?” the workers kept shouting. They used gas cutters and drilling machines and extricated bags, mobile phones, clothes and utensils from under the debris.

Workers engaged in the Joka-BBD Bag Metro Rail project said that they had built shanties under the bridge to cook and that five to six of their fellow workers were still trapped underneath.

“I was on the bridge, headed towards Behala. Suddenly it came crashing. It became completely dark because of the clouds of dust. Thankfully my passenger and I escaped unhurt,” said Suman Jha, a taxi driver who survived the collapse. According to eyewitnesses, those on motorbikes sustained maximum injuries. So far, 21 people have been injured in the accident; the deceased has been identified as Soumen Bag.

The Majerhat Bridge was built about five decades ago over the Sealdah-Budge Budge suburban railway line. Railway services were also disrupted due to the accident. Locals said that even though the bridge had been painted blue and white — the colour of the Trinamool Congress government — it was dilapidated and had grass growing on its edges.

Probe ordered

The Chief Minister, who is on an administrative visit to Darjeeling, said that a high-powered committee headed by the state Chief Secretary would probe the collapse. “Six construction workers are trapped. Contact could be established with two,” Ms. Banerjee said.

West Bengal Governor K.N. Tripathi, who visited the accident site, said the maintenance of the bridge rested jointly with the State PWD and Railways and that the “matter needs to be inquired into”.

Kolkata police, West Bengal Fire Services and five teams of the National Disaster Response Force have joined the rescue operations.

Five hydraulic cranes were brought to extract the vehicles that went down with the collapsed segment of the bridge.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2021 4:28:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/arterial-majerhat-bridge-collapses-in-kolkata/article24866495.ece

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