KOLKATA: At least 22 people were killed and more than 88 are injured and many others trapped under a portion of an under-construction flyover which collapsed on a congested road intersection at Kolkata’s Burrabazar area crushing people, vehicles and hawkers.
The incident took place at the busy Rabindra Sarani-KK Tagore Street crossing near Burrabazar, one of the densely populated areas in the city.
Police said that 22 people have been killed in the incident and around 90 people have been rushed to different hospital for medical attention. Many others are feared to be trapped under the debris.
According to eyewitnesses around 12:30 pm 250 meter long portion of a two-kilometer long under-construction flyover being build in the square to release traffic flow collapsed.
An eyewitness who identified himself as Ankur Jalan said, “Around 12:30 pm I was watching television when heard a sound like a bomb blast. On peeping outside I saw the flyover had disintegrated and several people were trapped inside the steel and concrete debris.”
The locals complained that rescue team rushed in late for help. In the initial hours of the rescue operation disaster management team and local police along with locals tried to rescue people trapped in the debris.
The rescue operation was almost a failure since the rescuers did not have proper equipments to crack within the debris and pull out people.
Around 300 army personnel have been pressed into the rescue operation. Army rushed to Burrabazar with its engineers and heavy machineries including huge cranes and other machineries to dismantle the debris and pullout the survivors. Army has engaged 10 of its ambulances in the rescue operation.
Several sufferers were heard crying for help from within the debris, many were seen trapped in vehicles under huge slabs of concrete and iron grids and several lied in pools of blood.
CCTV footage of the incident has been released. In the footage one can see the flyover-portion falling over passing-by cars, rickshaws and people. Many tried to escape as the portion was falling but in vain. According to locals residents and government officials more than 150 people are feared trapped inside the debris. The time of the incident is said to be the busiest hours of the locality.
The state government has opened emergency helpline numbers (1070, 033-22143526, 033-22535185, 033-22145664) to provide information related to the incident.
Political parties of West Bengal have demanded CBI probe into the incident. CPI (M) Politburo member Mohd Selim said that the incident is an intuitive of corruption.
However, West Bengal chief minister Mamta Banerjee said that the project and the tender were floated during the leftist regime. She added, “Stringent actions will be taken against those responsible for the incident.”
The Hyderabad-based company IVRCL constructions official Panduranga Rao claimed the incident as “God’s act.”
The state government has announced Rs 5lakh for deceased, Rs 3lakh to ones who have suffered serious injuries and Rs1lakh for people who escaped with minor injuries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in an official visit to U.S. expressed shock and sadness over the loss of lives in the flyover collapse and instructed the center to help in rescue and relief operations.
An FIR has been filed against the construction company.