Septuagenarian Baidyanath Sarkar was convulsing with fear, four hours after an incomplete flyover collapsed right behind him in a crowded central Kolkata market on Thursday, killing more than 20 people.
He crossed the spot seconds before the overhead structure fell in a heap of concrete debris and mangled steel . The shaken elderly man said it was god’s will that he should live.
“I had gone out to buy a medicine from New Apollo Pharmacy located at the crossing over which the flyover stood. Hardly had I walked 20 steps after buying the medicine that I heard a deafening sound behind me. The ground shook violently,” he said.
He pointed a shaking hand towards the shop and then the fallen structure, trying to illustrate how close it was. “I looked back and saw that the flyover had collapsed and people were scurrying across the road.”
Like Sarkar, a shop employee from the Rabindra Sarani locality had a lucky escape too.
“I was at the crossroads barely five minutes ago. My employer, Sambhunathbabu, had asked me to get a document photocopied and I had just returned with it. I was having a cup of tea barely 100 metres from the spot when I heard earsplitting sound,” Pallav Monda said.
“I thought it was a bomb. Then I saw people running and shouting that the bridge had collapsed. Had I been a few minutes late….” He shuddered.
Among the onlookers clicking photos with their mobile phones and discussing the accident, a middle-aged man was narrating to a friend in a corner of a bylane how he escaped death — or rather saved by a local barber.
“The barber had gone to the toilet and I had to wait for a few minutes. After the haircut, I came out of the salon and saw the flyover come crashing down. I would have been walking right under a collapsing bridge if the barber hadn’t gone to the loo and delayed the haircut,” Sujoy Das said.