Kolkata bridge disaster, one dead

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in opposition in the state, raised questions on the government over the tragedy.

At least one person has died in the Majerhat Bridge collapse in Kolkata and around 19 injured are undergoing treatment at the hospital even as rescuers continued to dig through the debris to reach those still feared trapped.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the incident.

“The collapse of a part of a bridge in Kolkata is deeply unfortunate. My thoughts are with the families of the victims. I pray that those who are injured recover at the earliest,” he wrote on Twitter.

West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, who reached the site to take stock of the rescue operations, raised questions on the maintenance of  the bridge.

“Bridge deserved better maintenance. There was a report on a pit here for quite some time; I don’t know whether PWD noted it. PWD and Railway administration had the responsibility to maintain it. The matter requires investigation,” said the Governor.

At least 20-25 injured people have been rescued by fire officials while many more are feared trapped under the rubble.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in opposition in the state, raised questions on the government over the tragedy.

“How many more bridges will be broken in Paschim Banga? Mere change of colour does not add any shade of development,” said state BJP president Dilip Ghosh.

“Be it a bridge, a dam, hospital or a Government office, Didimoni has only paid lip service to performance by painting them blue and white!” he said referring to the dire need of upgrade of the city’s infrastructure.

“Didi, think not only of votes but also of the lives. Let lives count more than votes!” he added.

The Majerhat Bridge in Kolkata’s extremely busy Alipore locality collapsed on Tuesday evening at around 4.30 pm following heavy rains in the city. Cars and a city bus were seen trapped on the bridge as panicked locals rushed to the site to help save the lives of those feared trapped underneath the debris.

Rescuers were seen trying to reach underneath the flyover to find those feared trapped. Electric-cutters and other equipment were pressed into service as ambulances were kept on standby to ferry the injured to the hospital.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is in Darjeeling, had in a press briefing said that there was a hut underneath the bridge which housed a few labourers working on a railway project.

“If the labourers were in the hut at the time of the incident, some lives may have been lost,” the Trinamool Congress chief told reporters.

She had earlier said that there was no casualty in the incident.

Eyewitnesses had said that the number of casualties could be very high given the busy location and the time of the collapse.

Army ambulances were seen rushing to the site to help in the rescue operations but state Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim categorically stated that the force had not been called in to assist in the rescue operation stressing that the local administration is fully equipped to handle the situation.

Hakim had told reporters that six injured have been shifted to the hospital for treatment. The victims have been reportedly taken to the SSKM hospital.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has deployed five teams to assist the local administration in the rescue effort.

Majherhat Bridge is located next to the Kolkata Port Trust Hospital and connects Alipore with the rest of the south Kolkata neighbourhood. Its proximity to Garden Reach and Khidirpur makes Majerhat Bridge one of the busiest in the city.

It runs over the suburban railway network, which is the lifeline of the city. The collapse of the bridge has affected railway operations though the portion that has collapsed does not run over the railway lines but a canal adjacent to them.

“Train services in Circular Railway and Sealdah-Budge Budge line have been suspended as precautionary measure following the collapse of a portion of the bridge,” Eastern Railway spokesman RN Mahapatra said.

Being one of the major flyovers, the collapse of the bridge had a ripple effect on the city’s traffic. Jams were witnessed in many parts of the city on roads arterially connected to the Majerhat Bridge road.

According to reports, traffic movement through Diamond Harbour Road in Taratala area had been suspended. Traffic from various parts of South 24 Parganas and Behala area in the city were being diverted from Diamond Park area.

The Kolkata Traffic Police posted a tweet for commuters asking them to take the Hastings to Taratala road through CGR for northward journey and the DH Road to CGR road through Taratala for southward journey.



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