Fri, Apr 01, 2016 - Page 6 News List

Mass casualties feared as flyover collapses in India

AFP, KOLKATA, India

A partially built flyover yesterday collapsed in India’s eastern city of Kolkata, killing at least one person and injuring scores, with many more feared trapped under mounds of debris, an official and a lawmaker said.

Police and passersby were using their hands to try to move giant slabs of concrete and metal to reach those trapped, after the bridge collapsed at about lunchtime on a busy road, television footage showed.

“One person is confirmed dead. Sixty-two people who were trapped under the debris have been shifted to hospital, some of them are critical,” Indian National Disaster Management Authority spokesman Anurag Gupta said.

Gupta said it was unclear how many people were still trapped under the debris, but said “pedestrians as well as vehicles came under the falling flyover.”

Specialist rescue teams armed with concrete cutters, drilling machines, sensors to detect life and sniffer dogs were being rushed to the scene, Gupta added.

Television footage showed one bloodied body trapped under a concrete slab, and also the hand of a person sticking out from under twisted debris.

“Monumental tragedy. Rescue ops on. Many feared dead,” Trinamool Congress Party spokesman Derek O’Brien posted on his Twitter account.

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he was monitoring the situation, adding that he was “deeply saddened to know that precious lives have been lost in the Kolkata accident.”

An eyewitness at the scene described a loud bang “like a bomb blast and suddenly there was a lot of smoke and dust.”

“I looked at the other side of the road and people were screaming ‘the bridge is collapsing’,” the unnamed man told television networks.

The Press Trust of India news agency, citing police, said one person was dead with an unknown number of others trapped.

Kolkata is to host the World Twenty20 cricket final on Sunday.

The accident is the latest in a string of deadly construction collapses in India, some of which have highlighted shoddy building standards.

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