Massive concrete slabs being used in the construction of an overhead Metro rail stretch in east Delhi fell on a Blueline bus killing its driver and a construction worker early Sunday morning. Eleven people were injured.
The concrete pre-fabricated slabs called segments were being mounted between pillars that would eventually support tracks for the Metro trains to run in Laxmi Nagar when the accident happened.
Had it not been Sunday, the toll would have been much higher as the traffic on weekdays is extremely dense here, moving at a crawl most parts of the day.
Both the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation and the Delhi government ordered separate inquiries. The Metro corporation also put on hold construction work across its network.
The incident happened around 6.35 am. The Blueline bus — route number 39 running between Jheel and Jai Mata market in east Delhi — was right under when the slab came crashing down.
There were not many in the bus — a dozen, the police said. The driver, Surendra Pal Singh, 28, and a construction worker of the project, Chote Lal, 25, died in the incident.
“It felt like the earth shattered,” said Sanjeev Kumar Gehlot, a worker at the nearby Walia Nursing Home. “We saw a thick cloud of dust, debris all over the road and people screaming for help from the bus.”
Metro rail’s Vijay Anand, director (project), said, “We suspect it was a mechanical failure in the launcher. We, however, don’t know exactly what happened at this point in time and are investigating the matter.”
This stretch of Metro is running overhead, resting over thick concrete pillars every couple of metres. The span between two pillars is made of several massive three-metre wide segments held together sideways by extra strong steel ropes.
Each segment weighs between 300 and 400 tonnes, and is picked by a launcher. Twelve to fifteen of them are together lowered between the pillars to complete the span.
The launcher was doing nicely Sunday morning till it picked up the 11th segment. It had already picked up 10 for the span between pillars 39 and 40. And then tragedy struck.
“It slipped out, followed by the remaining 10,” said Metro spokesman Anuj Dayal, adding, “followed by the launcher itself.”
That’s a lot of concrete and steel. Everything standing under was destroyed — the Blueline bus, two cars and a Metro cart.
The injured — mostly passengers of the bus and construction workers — were first taken to a nearby nursing home, and then to the Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital and the Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan Hospital.
Police have registered a case of negligence against unknown people. “The charges will be leveled against the specific negligent party after further investigations,” said a senior police officer.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Finance Minister A.K. Walia and BJP’s chief ministerial candidate V.K. Malhotra visited the spot and the injured at hospitals.
“Whatever way we can help, we will certainly do that,” Dikshit said, adding the government has asked for a report from Metro about the accident. See graph .
Malhotra demanded a judicial probe, alleging that contractors were being “pressurised” to rush through the work to keep deadlines for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.