20 dead, three injured in girder launcher collapse at Shahapur | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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20 dead, three injured in girder launcher collapse at Shahapur

Aug 02, 2023 12:46 AM IST

In a ghastly mishap, 13 labourers, two engineers and five employees of a Singapore-headquartered private company were killed on Monday night when a girder launcher weighing over 700 metric tonnes collapsed from a height of 35 metres

Shahapur: In a ghastly mishap, 13 labourers, two engineers and five employees of a Singapore-headquartered private company were killed on Monday night when a girder launcher weighing over 700 metric tonnes collapsed from a height of 35 metres. The accident took place on the Samruddhi Expressway near Sarlambe village in Shahapur taluka of Thane district.

Mumbai, India - Aug. 1, 2023: 17 people died and three were injured as a girder machine fell on them during construction of the third phase of Samruddhi Expressway in the Thane district of Maharashtra, India, on Tuesday, August 1, 2023. (Photo by Satish Bate/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)
Mumbai, India - Aug. 1, 2023: 17 people died and three were injured as a girder machine fell on them during construction of the third phase of Samruddhi Expressway in the Thane district of Maharashtra, India, on Tuesday, August 1, 2023. (Photo by Satish Bate/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)

According to the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), which is executing the 700-km Samruddhi Mahamarg stretch from Mumbai to Nagpur, the mishap took place around 11.30 pm when a team of 28 people of VSL India Ltd were doing preparatory work for the next day. Six hundred km of the expressway from Nagpur to Shirdi is already operational, and the last 100-km stretch connecting Nashik and Shahpur to Thane is under way.

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MSRDC officials said the work for the 2.29-km viaduct was given to Navyuga Engineering Company Ltd, which contracted VSL India Ltd, a Singapore-headquartered company, to launch the viaduct using specialised launchers.

The automatic launcher weighing approximately 700 metric tonnes had completed 98 out of 114 spans on this stretch. On Monday night, when the VSL team was doing preparatory work for the next day, the launching gantry crane—which lifts and fits the concrete girder at a height of 35 metres—came crashing down from Piers 15 and 16 of one carriageway. The work on the second carriageway is already complete, and the work on the last eight to 10 piers was remaining.

Residents of Khotadi village near the site heard the sound of the crash and rushed to the spot. They carried five people to safety. The police, fire brigade and rescue teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Thane Disaster Relief Force arrived at the spot in the early hours of Tuesday and began the rescue work.

A total of 17 bodies were removed from the wreckage and taken to Shahapur sub-district hospital about 10 km away. The 17 included 10 labourers from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, two engineers and five other VSL staffers. Three other injured labourers were moved to Jupiter Hospital in Thane and the Shahapur sub-district hospital.

NDRF commandant Sarang Kurve said that two teams of 60 personnel were engaged in the rescue work. “It was immensely challenging due to the weight of the wreckage of mangled steel and broken concrete girder,” he said. “We did a canine search and used scanning techniques for any sign of survivors but could not detect any. The contractor told us that three more people were still missing. We will use gas cutters to break the wreckage down and search inside.”

Subsequently, two heavy cranes were deployed around 2.30 pm to lift the heavy wreckage, and gas cutters were used to break the wreckage into small parts. The three missing bodies of labourers were removed from the wreckage at around 4.30 pm. Of the 20 bodies at the Shahapur hospital, 15, accompanied by relatives, were dispatched by ambulance to their respective states.

Maharashtra cabinet minister Dada Bhuse and Ravindra Chavan visited the site of the mishap. The Maharashtra government has announced a compensation of 500,000 while the Centre announced 200,000 for the next of kin of the deceased and 50,000 for those injured. An offence under IPC 304 A for culpable homicide not amounting to murder has been lodged against the contractor at Shahapur police station.

After protests by relatives at the hospital, VSL officials said the company would bear all expenses, and gave a written assurance to the relatives of the dead that the compensation would be transferred to the bank accounts of the next of kin.

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