31 March 2016

India Kolkata: At least 10 dead after flyover collapses on road

A flyover under construction in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata (Calcutta) has collapsed, killing at least 10 people and injuring others.

Many people are feared trapped under the concrete and steel bridge, which fell on a busy road.

Images show residents using their bare hands to help the rescue effort.

Safety issues such as lack of inspections and the use of substandard materials have plagued construction projects in the country.

The accident took place in an area near Girish Park, one of Kolkata’s most densely populated neighbourhoods, with narrow lanes, and shops and houses built close together.

The 2km-long (1.2 mile) flyover has been under construction since 2009 and missed several deadlines for completion, Reuters news agency says.

The collapsed structure appears to have hit passers-by, cars, lorries and nearby buildings. People are said to have been living in makeshift homes under the flyover.

Ramesh Kejriwal, an eyewitness, told Reuters: “There was a loud sound which scared us. The concrete had been laid last night at this part of the bridge.”

109At least 60 injured have been taken to nearby hospitals and some of them are in critical condition, a rescue official told AFP news agency.

Emergency teams have been sent to the area with sniffer dogs, concrete cutters, drilling machines and sensors to detect life, he added.

These are chaotic scenes, as officials are desperately trying to clear the area, worried that the rest of the flyover may collapse. They are trying to bring in equipment to clear the rubble and rescue those who may be under it. But the proximity of the buildings may limit the access for heavy lifting equipment to the area.

It is a race against time and the death toll may rise. A rescue official said there were buses trapped.

Locals have been digging through the huge slabs of rubble with pick axes while police hold back relatives desperate for news of the missing.

109As the operation continues, angry relatives arrive looking for their loved ones. At the same time, more bodies are being taken away.

The army and national disaster agency in India have also joined the rescue operation. Witnesses, however, say there are no signs of a co-ordinated response on the ground.

On Twitter, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he was monitoring the situation, adding that he was “deeply saddened to know that precious lives have been lost in the Kolkata accident”.


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