Rescue operations were going on Wednesday at south Kolkata’s Majerhat Bridge which collapsed on Tuesday evening, killing one person and injuring 25. Reports say that five teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and around 200 members of the force are still working at the site.
Apart from the NDRF, firefighters, the Indian Army and the local police have been involved in the rescue operations that continued overnight.
However, it is believed that no one else trapped under the bridge at the moment.
— ANI (@ANI) September 5, 2018
Several vehicles were crushed and electricity poles and wires snapped under the weight of the bridge that caved in on the arterial Diamond Harbor Road in the Alipore area.
Describing the scene of the disaster, eyewitness Hazi Kausem, a resident of the neighbouring Kidderpore area, told The Telegraph, “When I and some other volunteers reached the spot, there were injured people lying all around. A few had crawled out of the vehicles. Several were crying. Those still inside the cars remained seated, as if in a trance.”
Another eyewitness, who was inside a car on the bridge when it collapsed, told the Hindustan Times, “When I stepped out the entire structure was shaking. Some construction workers rescued at least five persons.”
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said her government would order a probe headed by the chief secretary of West Bengal. The probe, she said, would look into why the bridge collapsed. She added that the government had already been keeping track of maintenance of bridges and flyovers in the city.
— IE Bangla (@ieBangla) September 4, 2018
This is the second major bridge collapse in Kolkata in just over two years. The under-construction Vivekananda Flyover had collapsed in 2016, killing 27 people and injuring over 60.
However, right after Tuesday’s collapse, West Bengal’s Public Works Department Minister Firad Hakim told ANI that the bridge was very old.
It was a 40-year-old bridge. As of now there has been no casualty, but search operations are underway, let us wait: Firhad Hakim, West Bengal Minister on Majerhat bridge collapse. #Kolkata pic.twitter.com/n1x4lArKnk
— ANI (@ANI) September 4, 2018
While the state government promised prompt action and a thorough probe, opposition parties in the state criticised the government for the disaster.
PTI quoted BJP’s Mukul Roy as saying, “They are saying beautification of city is on, but repair work of old constructions is not on her mind. The state government should take complete responsibility for this collapse.”
West Bengal Congress leader Adhir Chowdhury also blamed the Banerjee-led TMC government for the disaster, saying that the government had not learnt a lesson from the 2016 flyover collapse.
“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,” Chowdhury told PTI.