Many feared trapped in rail overbridge collapse in Kolkata

A View of the collapsed Majerhat Bridge   -  Debashish Bhaduri

Kolkata, September 4

A 150-metre-long section of a 40-year-old rail overbridge on National Highway 117 in a busy area of south Kolkata came crashing, late this afternoon.

While five people are feared dead as per unofficial sources, at least 19 are injured. Some are feared trapped under the debris. State officials confirmed one death so far.

Popularly known as Majerhat Bridge, it was maintained by the West Bengal public works department. The area is surrounded by half-constructed buildings, scaffolding and pillars with Metro Railway work under way there.

National Disaster Response Force joined the state authorities in rescue work.

Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, who is in Darjeeling for an administrative meeting already ordered a probe headed by the Chief Secretary.

“Rescue work is our priority. We do not know about the death toll yet. I have ordered a thorough probe into the matter and the guilty will be punished,” she told a private television channel.

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences. “The collapse of a part of a bridge in Kolkata is deeply unfortunate. My thoughts are with the families of the victims. I pray that those who are injured recover at the earliest,” he said on his micro-blogging site.

Series of accidents

This is the third flyover collapse incident in Kolkata in last five years. In 2013, March, an arm of a flyover connecting the airport collapsed, injuring three persons.

The next incident, in March 2016, shook the nation, as 26 people were killed when an under-construction flyover in the congested western part of the city collapsed.

In August this year, another under-construction flyover on National Highway in Siliguri — 600 km from Kolkata — collapsed. No casualties were reported in the accident.

Kolkata port affected

The accident created major problems for evacuation of cargo from Kolkata Dockyard as Majherhat is the interchange point between port rail and Indian rail.

According to sources, though the rail assets remain intact, authorities suspended rail operations. Apart from the port connectivity, South suburban and circular rail movement is also affected, causing major problem for the commuters.

While the reason for the collapse is not known, State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim was quick to point out that the flyover was built by Kolkata Port Trust and State PWD was in charge of maintaining it.

“We are probing the reasons for the collapse. There was some construction work being carried out near the bridge,” he said, indicating that the structural stability of the flyover could have been affected because of the construction work.

KoPT claimed that they have no records with relation to construction of Majerhat Bridge.

Meanwhile, Governor KN Tripathi called for a probe as to whether proper maintenance by the Rail Ministry and State PWD was carried out.

Published on September 04, 2018
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