Kolkata: A portion of the Majerhat bridge in southern Kolkata collapsed on Tuesday, killing one people and trapping several others under its debris. A part of the bridge between Taratala and Mominpur, which is located in the Alipore area, collapsed around 4.45 pm, according to news agency PTI. Also Read - UK's Chief Nurse Makes Emotional Speech Asking People to Stay Inside For Aimee And Areema, Nurses Who Died From Coronavirus
The over 50-year-old bridge on the arterial Diamond Harbour Road in the crowded Alipore area caved in around 4.45 pm during rush hour over rail tracks. It runs over the Majerhat Railway Station and connects the city centre to Behala and other southern suburbs. Also Read - Coronavirus in India: Amid Janata Curfew, Death Toll Reaches 6, Bihar Man Youngest Victim
Police confirmed the death of one person and said 19 others, including two women were injured. The injured have been admitted to SSKM and CMRI hospitals, the police said. Also Read - Coronavirus: Cinema Halls in Jammu to be Closed Till March 31, Total Positive Cases Rise to 60 Across India
Fire brigade personnel engaged in the rescue work had earlier said 25 injured were pulled out from the rubble.
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.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered a probe into the incident, and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the injured.
Informing about the incident, she said 19 people have been injured in the incident and the reports of death of one person is yet to be confirmed.
“19 people have received injuries. All of them are stable. We have reports of the death of one person but that hasn’t been confirmed. There was a slum where the bridge fell and there might be three-four casualties at that place,” she said.
“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”, the chief minister said.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh expressed grief on the incident, and said that five teams of NDRF have been sent for rescue and relief operations. He also assured Mamata of more help from the Centre, if needed.
While four teams of the NDRF comprising about 180 personnel have already reached the spot, another team comprising about 45 rescuers is on its way, Home Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted.
State minister Chandrima Bhattacharya said she has heard about the death of five persons in the incident but it was yet to be confirmed.
Meanwhile, another state minister Firhad Hakim said there were casualty in the incident, and six injured people were admitted to the nearby hospitals. He added that all those who were trapped under the debris had been rescued.
“It was a 40-year-old bridge. As of now there has been no casualty, but search operations are underway, let us wait. All those who were trapped have been rescued,” said Hakim.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief on the incident and prayed for speedy recovery of the injured. “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 tweeted.
Earlier, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is currently in Darjeeling, said that rescue and relief operations are at top priority for the state government. She added that the police is investigating the matter and a detailed investigation will be done.
“We are very worried. We are receiving information from the rescue team on ground. We want to go back as soon as possible. There are no flights in the evening, we are unable to do so,” she said.
“Police is investigating the matter, a detailed investigation will be done, our main focus right now is rescue and relief operations,” she added.
Fire brigade, police and NDRF personnel are engaged in rescue work in the fading light.
NDRF DG Sanjay Kumar said earthmovers are being used. “We have to take into account the safety aspect while clearing the debris”, he said.
TMC leader Derek O’Brien tweeted, “Watching scenes of Majerhat bridge #Kolkata collapse . Devastating. Rescue teams, disaster management teams, Police CP,fire fighters already reach spot. Locals join. Rescue operations on.Prayers for those affected. Difficult to gauge enormity of tragedy as yet looking at visuals.”
Blame Game Begins Over Bridge Collapse
Soon after the tragedy took place, opposition parties alleged that the Trinamool Congress-led government’s “callousness towards the repair of old bridges” was the main reason behind the collapse.
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 enquired,” he told reporters.
BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha blamed the state government for its alleged negligence in maintaining bridges in the state and demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident.
“We demand a judicial inquiry into the incident and resignation of the CM and minister of the concerned department responsible for maintaining the bridge,” he said.
Senior BJP leader Mukul Roy said, “It is really unfortunate that the bridge has collapsed. But the fact is the state government is solely responsible for the bridge collapse. The issue of repair of the old bridges is not at all in the agenda of TMC government.”
State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury demanded an “answer” from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Public Works Department Minister Firhad Hakim.
“Earlier in 2016, we had witnessed a bridge collapse (at Burrabazar). This incident proves that the state government is yet to learn its lessons. The state government should give an answer,” he said.
Rail, Road Traffic Hit
Transport services connecting the vast areas in the south-western part of the city and South 24 Parganas district were severely affected owing to the bridge collapse.
The bridge collapse hit Circular Railway services and local train services in Budge Budge-Sealdah line inconveniencing a large number of commuters, 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 during the peak evening hours.
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.
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.