Kolkata

21 dead as Kolkata flyover collapses

Several passenger vehicles, including a bus, were trapped under the debris, as operations are on to clear the rubble. Photo: Special Arrangement  

At least 21 people were killed and more than 60 injured as two parts of an under-construction 2.2-km-long Vivekananda Flyover collapsed in a congested market area in BurraBazar, north Kolkata, on Thursday afternoon.

A 100-metre (330-ft) section came crashing down suddenly on a crowded street around lunchtime, crushing pedestrians, cars and other vehicles under huge concrete slabs and metal. The death toll is likely to increase as scores of people inside vehicles were trapped under the collapsed bridge.

K.P. Rao, a representative of the Hyderabad-based construction company IVRCL, which was contracted to build the giant flyover, called the disaster an “act of God”, while an FIR has been lodged against the local officials of the company.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said “stringent action” will be taken against the owners of the company assigned to construct the bridge, connecting the central part of the city to the north.

The Army was called in.

The flyover is located at the hub of the wholesale market for spices, garments and plastics, BurraBazar, and the livelihoods of thousands who reside in the area, are linked with the market.

The National Disaster Response Force deployed five of its teams.Specialist rescue teams armed with concrete and metal cutters, drilling machines, sensors to detect life and sniffer dogs arrived around 2 p.m. But many of those engaged in the rescue appeared to be ordinary people who were seen trying to pull away concrete slabs with their bare hands.

Workers struggled to get cranes and other large machinery through the narrow streets of Burrabazar, one of the oldest and most congested parts of the city. “We have deployed five columns of personnel along with a team of engineers. A medical team from the Command Hospital is also at the spot,” Ministry of Defence spokesperson Wing Commander S. S. Birdi said.

Photo: PTI

A desperate search for loved ones

Relatives of those who were caught in the flyover collapse in Kolkata on Thursday were desperate as the nearby Marwari Relief Society and Medical College and Hospital, where the injured and dead were taken could not provide any information about their loved ones.

A junior doctor said most of the people came with injuries on their head or upper parts of the body. Many were seen desperately looking for their injured relatives. “My brother-in-law Sujit Debnath is admitted here, but nobody can tell me how to locate him. I have been here for over one hour and still clueless about how to meet him,” he said.

Several relatives of those who died did not know where the bodies were.

A 24-year-old college student and local resident, Amit Bihani, was sitting in shops adjacent to the flyover, when it collapsed. He said he heard a loud noise and the ground started shaking.

Commotion

“When I turned around I saw that a part of the flyover had collapsed,” he told The Hindu. When he ran up to the accident site, Mr. Bihani saw blood coming out from underneath the massive beams and those who were still alive were groaning in pain. It took a while for Mr. Bihani to recover from the initial shock but then he joined the rescue work. “I have seen 10 bodies being pulled out from the debris,” he said.

It was a close shave for 26-year old Arindam Pramanik who could not comprehend the huge commotion and the dust around him near the Vidyasagar flyover.

“I was under another portion of the flyover on my two-wheeler, when I saw people running helter-skelter and dust billowing around…I saw that a portion of the flyover had collapsed,” he told The Hindu.

(Video credit: 24 ghanta)

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2020 1:49:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/flyover-collapses-in-kolkata/article8417691.ece

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