At least 21 people are confirmed dead and dozens were injured after an under construction Vivekananda Flyover collapsed in the market area of BurraBazar, Kolkata, on Thursday.
The 100-meter section of the flyover, 2.2 kilometers long, collapsed onto street vendors and vehicles below around lunchtime, crushing them under slabs of concrete and metal. The death toll is likely to increase.
Other than those killed, as many as 78 people were injured and taken to Kolkata’s Medical College Hospital. “Most were bleeding profusely. The problem is that nobody is able to drive an ambulance to the spot,” Akhilesh Chaturvedi, a senior police officer, said, as quoted by CNBC.
K.P. Rao, representative of the construction company IVRCL contracted to construct the flyover, said the incident was an “act of God,” Times of India reports. A.G.K. Murthy, company’s director of operations, said the cause of the incident was not clear.
Speaking with reporters, Murthy said, “We did not use any inferior quality material and we will cooperate with the investigators. We are in a state of shock.” An FIR has been issued against the company officials.
Construction projects in India have been plagued with safety issues like utilization of substandard materials and inadequate inspections. According to BBC, the flyover was constructed in a densely populated and congested area that had shops and houses built closely together; something that made transporting heavy equipment and materials more difficult.
As reported by Reuters, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that “stringent action” will be taken against the officials of the company.
Five teams were deployed to the scene by the National Disaster Response Force, while rescue crews with concrete and metal cutters, sniffer dogs and drilling machines arrived at 2 p.m. Wing Commander, S.S. Birdi, Ministry of Defence spokesperson, said, as quoted by The Hindu, “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.”
Resident Ramesh Kejriwal talked about he had evaded the collapse. The concrete had been laid last night at this part of the bridge,” he told Reuters. “I am lucky as I was planning to go downstairs to have juice. When I was thinking about it, I saw that the bridge had collapsed.”