Majerhat bridge in South Kolkata collapsed in West Bengal's capital on Tuesday. One person was killed and 25 others were injured in the incident, PTI reported. However, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the news of casualty was yet to be confirmed. (Read this story in Hindi)
"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 3-4 casualties at that place," Banerjee said.
The 40-year-old bridge 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.
While police confirmed the death of one person, fire brigade personnel engaged in the rescue work said 25 injured were pulled out from the rubble.
The injured have been admitted to SSKM and CMRI hospitals, the police said.
NDRF DG Sanjay Kumar said earthmovers are being used. "We have to take into account the safety aspect while clearing the debris", he said.
At the time of collapse, several vehicles were passing under and over the bridge, but the most of the passengers were rescued alive. The injured were quickly rushed to a nearby hospital, eyewitnesses said. The exact number of injured was yet to be confirmed.
Even as the state government did not seek any help from the Indian Army, the nearby Army field hospital sent a detachment to assist the rescue operations, an official told ANI.
At least one mini bus and several cars were crushed under the collapsed bridge. The bridge collapsed in two pieces. The locals, who were first responders after the incident, said that most of the passengers of the crushed vehicles were taken out. The authorities were now trying to remove the debris to check for any more injured or casualties.
The clearing of debris may face further difficulties as there was metro construction underway in the adjoining area, blocking path for JCB or cranes required for the operations.
PM Modi, Home Minister term incident 'unfortunate'
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday offered payers for those injured in the bridge collapse and termed the incident 'unfortunate'. "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," the PM said via his Twitter handle @narendramodi.
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.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 4, 2018
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that four NDRF teams had reached the spot. "The bridge collapse incident in Kolkata is extremely tragic. Four NDRF teams have already reached the spot. One more team is on the way. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured," he said.
West Bengal Government's response
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is in Darjeeling currently, stated that she was 'very worried' after the incident and is trying to get back to Kolkata as soon as possible.
"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," Banerjee said, adding that her team is focussed on relief and rescue work.
"Our priority is relief and rescue. Rest of the investigation will be done later," she said.
The CM also informed that a police investigation has been launched to investigate the cause of the collapse.
Meanwhile, the state governor said that the bridge deserved better maintenance.
"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. Matter requires investigation," Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi told ANI.
Politics on bridge collapse
Even as the rescue team were clearing the debris of the bridge collapse, the opposition parties started playing the blame game on the incident. While Congress leader Rupa Gangauly told India TV that the government is now likely to brush up the facts of bridge collapse under the carpet, BJP leader Mukul Roy accused TMC government of ignoring the city's maintenance.
"State government an CM is responsible for this bridge collapse. They are saying beautification of city is on,but repair work of old constructions is not on her mind. State govt should take complete responsibility of this collapse," Roy was reported as saying by ANI.
Earlier, Congress leader Ganguly said that it was a shocking incident and must be investigated thoroughly. But the state government is most likely to hide the facts and play the blame game in the incident, she said while speaking to India TV immediately after the collapse.
Bridge collapse sends road traffic haywire, train services hit too
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 collapse of the arterial bridge. A Kolkata Traffic Police officer said traffic movement through Diamond Harbour Road in Taratala area has been suspended following the incident.
Traffic from various parts of South 24 Parganas and Behala area in the city were being diverted from Diamond Park area, the officer said. Movement of traffic towards south-west Kolkata and South 24 Parganas were being diverted from Kidderpore and through Port area and Circular Garden Reach Road, he said.
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 at 4.45 pm, Eastern Railway spokesman RN Mahapatra said.
The collapse of a portion of the bridge over railway tracks occurred in the adjacent areas of Circular Railway line at Majherhat, leading to a signal post on the track being damaged by the debris, Mahapatra said.
Train movement through Majherhat had been suspended temporarily as a precautionary measure, he said.
Train services on Budge BudgeSealdah line may be restored after ensuring the safety in train running, he said.
Thousands of people travelling in the peak evening hours were inconvenienced owing to the incident.
(With inputs from agencies)