Kolkata flyover collapse: ‘Cries for help from crushed taxi’

  • Soumen Datta, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
  • Updated: Apr 01, 2016 13:50 IST
People gather around a mangled vehicle after an under-construction flyover collapsed in Kolkata on Thursday. (Subhankar Chakraborty)

The dust was yet to settle when I reached the spot where an under-construction flyover collapsed in a densely populated north Kolkata neighbourhood.

The sun was at its zenith but the entire area was covered by a haze of dust, even at 1pm.

The familiar Kali Krishna Tagore Street had vanished. The road that always filled up with the smell of good food, sweets, snacks and busy people was covered with a cloud of dust, uncertainty and fear of death.

Hundreds of people, with panic and helplessness written on their dusty faces, kept running in fear.

Visibility came down to nearly five feet. Shopkeepers along the road jumped out of their shops without downing their shutters.

Read: 22 killed, scores trapped after Kolkata flyover comes crashing down

As the dust settled, huge portions of the flyover, like some giant prehistoric alligator enjoying the sun, lay before my eyes.

Within minutes, I spotted a yellow taxi trapped under a giant girder. There was a voice that was crying out for help from inside the vehicle.

The police reached the spot. Fire brigade personnel also appeared in a jiffy. But none had any idea how to bring out any of the trapped people.

Local residents managed to pull out a few trapped persons. But soon everyone became helpless spectators.

At a few spots, limbs jutted out of the debris with blood trickling out.

After the initial shock dissipated, locals began frantic search for their near and dear ones.

Caught on camera: The moment when the flyover collapsed

“I cannot find my son. He went to Girish Park just few minutes before the flyover collapsed,” said Kamal Mehta of Raja Katra, a trading hub.

The fire brigade, the police and the disaster management group appeared confused. The police were seen struggling to control the huge crowd and onlookers.

The restive crowd finally began to cheer when they saw army personnel enter the scene and start rescue operations.

In the absence of any concrete information, speculation and rumour began floating. Some said 100 died, others said at least 150 perished.

Whatever the figure, my familiar Kali Krishna Tagore Street perhaps changed for good. The ubiquitous smell of ghee has now vanished, perhaps for a long time.

Read: ‘Act of God’: Construction firm official on Kolkata flyover collapse

Soumen Datta is a Special Correspondent with HT

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