Rescue workers smash through slabs after Kolkata bridge collapse to locate two missing labourers
Rescue teams worked throughout the night, cutting through concrete slabs, inserting cameras through holes drilled in the stone and using sniffer dogs to find the two construction labourers still missing after a portion of the over 50-year-old Majerhat bridge in south Kolkata caved in on Tuesday afternoon.
Gautam Mondal and Uday De, both residents of Murshidabad district, are still believed to be trapped under the debris. Mondal was cooking under the bridge when the accident happened, said construction workers of the metro rail, who used to live under the bridge.
“Two persons are missing. They may be under the rubble,” said a police officer at the disaster site on Wednesday afternoon.
Undertaking rescue operations at the site, personnel from the army, Disaster Management Group, National Disaster Response Force, Kolkata Police and Fire Brigade tried to drill holes through the thick concrete sections to insert cameras or smash the slabs with pay loaders.
NDRF personnel were trying to break the big concrete chunks into smaller pieces and remove them from the site.
One person was killed and around 20 others injured when the middle portion of the busy bridge connecting the city centre with the Behala area, the southwestern suburbs and South 24 Parganas district collapsed around 4.45 pm on Tuesday, sending several two-wheelers, cars and a minibus plunging down.
The deceased was identified as Soumen Bag, 21, a resident of Behala, who was going to College Street to buy books on a two wheeler. “When I rushed to the spot after watching the news on TV, I was told my son was rushed to SSKM Hospital. I rushed there only to be told that he is no more,” said Soumen’s father Pradip Bag.
Of the injured, 15 were still undergoing treatment in local hospitals with the condition of two of them said to be critical. Two of them in private CMRI hospital are stated to be critical. Ten are admitted in state-run SSKM Hospital while one is in VIdyasagar State General Hospital.
Away in Darjeeling on a trip, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said an inquiry will be carried out into the accident.
“A probe will be done by a committee headed by chief secretary Malay De to find out the cause of the collapse. Action will be taken against those whose negligence caused the accident. No one will be spared,” she said, adding: “It is a crime”.
The bridge that was constructed in the 1960s was maintained by the PWD. The chief minister and chief secretary will cut short their Darjeeling trip and return to Kolkata on Wednesday.
The opposition attacked the Trinamool Congress government over the accident. State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury visited the accident spot on Wednesday and slammed the state government for failure to maintain the bridge.
Bharatiya Janata Party MP Roopa Ganguly, who visited the site Wednesday morning, also held the state government responsible for the collapse, alleging that the bridge was not maintained properly.
On Wednesday, Kolkata Police lodged a suo motu case at Alipore police station against unknown responsible persons under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Eastern Railway appointed RITES to conduct a probe into the disaster. A three-member team visited the spot on Wednesday morning while a team of forensic experts went to the spot in the afternoon.
The rescue operations hit traffic movement, with thousands of people stuck in jams after the arterial Diamond Harbour Road was closed for traffic.
Train movement below the Majerhat bridge is normal, Eastern Railway spokesman R N Mahapatra said, reported PTI. “Train services of Circular Railway from Dum Dum to Majerhat has also resumed this morning,” he added.
However, services in the Circular Railway portion of railway track between New Alipore and Majerhat stations that passes under the bridge are temporarily suspended, he said.
Eastern Railway had stopped movement of trains on the lines on Tuesday as a precautionary measure. Tram services have been completely suspended along CGR Road-DH Road and Judges Court Road, a Kolkata traffic police source said.
This is a third bridge collapse in the city since 2013. A flyover under construction collapsed in crowded Burrabazar area, the wholesale business hub of the city, on March 31, 2016, claiming 26 lives.
On March 4, 2013, a road bridge had collapsed in Ultadanga area in the northern part of the city but there were no casualties as the incident happened late at night.