At least 14 persons were killed when a portion of an under-construction flyover collapsed on Thursday on Rabindra Sarani- K K tagore street, leaving scores of others trapped under the debris.
Police sources said that eight persons were killed in the incident, while several others were injured. The death toll could go up, they said. Several injured persons were rescued from under the debris and were being sent to different hospitals in the vicinity. “Two persons were brought dead and two others were in serious condition,” Kolkata Medical College and Hospital superintendent Sikha Banerjee said.
“More injured persons are still being brought in to the hospital,” Banerjee said. Cutting short her visit to West Midnapore district, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was campaigning there, rushed back to the city and visited the site and directed the authorities to speed up the relief and rescue operations carried out by police, fire brigade and disaster management personnel.
Several passenger vehicles, including a bus, were trapped under the debris, as operations were on to clear the rubble and bring out those trapped under. Huge cranes and other rescue vehicles were pressed into service to clear the debris and bring out the injured.
A PTI correspondent who was at the accident site, saw a number of severely injured persons lying in a pool of blood. At least a few persons were seen trapped under vehicles, concrete and heavy steel girders.
The incident took place at around noon at the busy Rabindra Sarani-K K Tagore Street crossing near Burrabazar, the trading hub and one of the most congested areas in the city. A number of hawkers operate under the flyover which is also used for parking several vehicles. NDRF personnel were also rushed to the site to to assist in the rescue operations.
The government sought Army help in the relief and rescue operations after which four columns of rescue personnel were deployed.
Each column has three medical teams with two ambulances and surgeons along with nursing assistants, a defence official said. A team of engineers from the army has also reached the spot with specialist equipment to help the civic authorities dismantle the debris.
The state government has opened an emergency helpline with number 1070 from the state secretariat Nabanna to provide information related to those injured or killed in the mishap.
Vivekananda flyover – Problematic since its inception
The Vivekananda flyover has been facing issues since the operations began in December 2009. The construction is years behind schedule and as of March 2016, over 25 percent of the work was still pending, said one Times of India report.
The Rs 164-crore project was supposed to be completed by 2012 but issues with land acquisition has delayed its completion. The TOI report further added that the project that was to be completed by March 2016 was scheduled for August 2016 for completion.
The design has been changed several times and the residents living around the construction even went to court as the flyover was inching dangerously close to their homes.
A 2014 report from the Telegraph said that IVRCL, the company responsible for building the flyover, wanted to wash its hands off the project as it was cash-strapped and running 42 months behind schedule, with only 69 per cent of the work done.
A source in the Telegraph report said that the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) was lax in monitoring the project and allegedly funded the flyover operations very poorly. The KMDA also failed in its part in getting permissions to block the road and as a result the construction continued in fits.
Another Times of India report from 2015 said that Mamata Banerjee held a review meeting to overlook the progress on various development projects and even expressed her displeasure with various departments over the slow progress. The report also said that the bridge was slated to be inaugurated by the end of 2015.
With inputs from PTI