Kolkata flyover collapses, killing 20

Rescuers at the site of the accident in Kolkata yesterday. Up to 150 people are believed to be buried under the rubble, and the death toll is expected to rise. Indian media have labelled the disaster "man-made".
Rescuers at the site of the accident in Kolkata yesterday. Up to 150 people are believed to be buried under the rubble, and the death toll is expected to rise. Indian media have labelled the disaster "man-made".PHOTO: REUTERS

The collapse of a flyover under construction in a busy commercial area in the eastern city of Kolkata has killed at least 20 people, injured more than 75 and buried up to 150, in a disaster the Indian media was quick to label "man-made".

Video aired on Indian television showed a massive concrete column and 100m stretch of the 2km flyover crumpling in a plume of dust yesterday, crushing auto rickshaws and people during the busy lunch hour when crowds were flocking to the hawker stalls under the flyover.

One eyewitness told reporters that he heard rumbling and initially thought it was an earthquake, while another described a loud bang that felt "like a bomb blast".

More than 5,000 rescue workers from the National Disaster Response Force, army and other rescue teams were slowed by traffic- clogged streets and buildings packed on either side of the street.

The death toll is expected to rise.


Rescuers at the site of the accident in Kolkata yesterday. Up to 150 people are believed to be buried under the rubble, and the death toll is expected to rise. Indian media have labelled the disaster "man-made". PHOTO: REUTERS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Washington for the Nuclear Security Summit, said on Twitter that he was monitoring the situation.

BOLTS STARTED COMING OUT

We were cementing two iron girders for the pillars, but the girders couldn't take the weight of the cement. The bolts started coming out this morning, and then the flyover came crashing down.

'' MR MILAN SHEIKH, an injured construction worker, before he was taken to hospital.

"Shocked and saddened by collapse of under-construction flyover in Kolkata," he tweeted. "My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in Kolkata. May the injured recover at the earliest."

Kolkata is a city of stunning colonial architecture that was once India's capital. In recent years, it has seen a spurt of building, and yesterday's disaster triggered concerns about safety as builders rush to finish projects.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2016, with the headline 'Kolkata flyover collapses, killing 20'. Print Edition | Subscribe