One Killed, Several Trapped As Bridge In Kolkata Collapses
A section of an over 50-year-old bridge on the arterial Diamond Harbour Road in south Kolkata collapsed Tuesday evening, snuffing out one life, trapping several people and crushing many vehicles, police said.
The Majerhat bridge runs over the Majerhat Railway Station and connects the city centre with the heavily populated Behala, the vast area of the south west suburbs and neighbouring South 24 Parganas district.
While police confirmed the death of one person, fire brigade personnel engaged in the rescue work said 25 injured were pulled out from the rubble. The 19 injured individuals have been admitted to SSKM and CMRI hospitals, the police said.
The bridge in the crowded Alipore area caved in around 4.45 p.m during rush hour over rail tracks. It runs over the Majerhat Railway Station and connects the city centre to Behala and other southern suburbs.
Additional lighting arrangements have been made to facilitate the rescue work at night. One minibus, four cars and a few motorbikes which were hit by the collapse were seen lying at the accident site till evening. An eyewitness claimed that some people in a minibus and private cars were trapped.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is now in Darjeeling, said that rescue work was almost over and only a concrete slab remains to be cut to find out whether any person was trapped there. She said the first priority is to rescue the injured and those who are trapped. She said a probe would be ordered to find out the cause of the collapse.
She also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family of the dead and Rs 50,00 each to the injured.
She said there was a hut under the bridge and some labourers engaged in metro rail construction work used to stay. "Had they been there during the time of accident, an unfortunate thing might have happened", she said.
Banerjee said that thousands of people pass through the area and the government has to probe the accident. "A probe will be done by a committee headed by Chief Secretary Malay De to find out the cause of the collapse. Action will be taken against those whose negligence caused the accident. No one will be spared", she said.
Circular Railway services and local train services in Budge Budge-Sealdah line were affected, an Eastern Railway spokesman said here. The local train services were suspended from 4.45 pm, he said.
The bridge collapse hit traffic movement to and from vast areas in south-west Kolkata and adjacent South 24 Parganas district. Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed the collapse as "deeply unfortunate" hoped for the speedy recovery of the injured.
The Prime Minister tweeted:
West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi, who visited the site, described it as "a big disaster.” "I have come to see the rescue work. It is a big disaster. I heard that maintenance of the bridge is entrusted with the PWD and the railways. The matter required to be inquired," he told reporters.
TMC leader Derek O'Brien tweeted:
The 450 metre-long bridge was built in early sixties and maintained by PWD, a member of mayor-in-council in the city municipal corporation said. Some locals said the collapse might have been due to the construction of metro railway pillars nearby but this was not immediately confirmed by the experts.
Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said the government would undertake technical inquiry after the rescue work is over. The army has kept three columns on standby for any assistance, defence sources said.
This is the third bridge collapse in the city in five and half years. An under construction flyover had collapsed in crowded Burrabazar area, the wholesale business hub of the city, on March 31, 2016 and had claimed 26 lives. On March 4, 2013, a road bridge had collapsed in Ultadanga area in the northern part of the city but there was no casualty.