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Majerhat bridge collapse: Rescue operations still on, Mamata to visit site

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on September 05, 2018

A view of the collapsed Majerhat Bridge. Photo: Debashish Bhaduri

Search and rescue operations continued nearly 24 hours after a section of a 40-year old rail over-bridge on National Highway-117 in a busy area of south Kolkata came crashing.

Kolkata Police have also filed an FIR against unknown persons which include “those responsible for maintenance of the rail over-bridge”.

West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee is expected to visiting the site later in the evening after returning from Darjeeling.

The cave-in happened late afternoon yesterday killing one person and injuring at least 24.

Officials apprehend there could be some more people trapped under the debris and are hence carrying out search and rescue operations.

Popularly referred as Majerhat bridge, the bridge was maintained by the West Bengal public works department.

The area is surrounded by half-constructed buildings, scaffolding and pillars with Metro Railway work being carried out there.

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 into 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.

Rail Vikash Nigam Ltd has already denied the possibility of Metro construction work affecting structural stability of the flyover.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Railway has asked the state-run RITES Ltd to probe the collapse of the Majherhat Bridge here and examine the safety of railway operations in its wake. 

RITES Ltd, under the aegis of Indian Railways, is a multi-disciplinary consultancy organisation in the fields of transport, infrastructure and related technologies.

Majerhat Bridge Collapsed. Photo: Debashish Bhaduri Photo: Debashish Bhaduri

 

PTI adds, that two persons were missing after a portion of the Majerhat bridge collapsed. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday as operations to locate those who might still be trapped in the debris were stepped up.

“There could be a few trapped underneath the collapsed bridge. We are trying to find them. We are using cutters and drill machines to cut through the concrete slabs of the bridge. Till now, we are unable to locate anybody. We are trying our best,” an official of the rescue team added.

The area near the site has been dug up for a metro railway project and construction material is strewn all over the place. Labourers working on the metro project claimed two of their co-workers, who were probably inside a temporary shelter underneath the bridge, are still missing.

The bridge in crowded Alipore area runs over the Majerhat Railway Station and connects the city centre with the heavily populated Behala, vast areas of the southwest suburbs and neighbouring South 24 Parganas district. As rescuers escalated their efforts, thousands of people were stuck in jams with the arterial Diamond Harbour Road being closed.

A traffic police officer said vehicles that usually move to and from the city through Majerhat bridge have been diverted through various other roads. Train movement below the Majerhat bridge is normal, Eastern Railway spokesman R N Mahapatra said. “Train services of Circular Railway from Dum Dum to Majerhat has also resumed this morning,” he said.

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. The Kolkata Disaster Management Department, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the state fire department conducted search operations through the night, officials said.

The rescuers tried drilling the concrete slabs, used sophisticated cameras and engaged sniffer dogs to ensure anybody trapped under the rubble could be reached and rescued. The rain complicated the operation. Additional lighting arrangements were made to aid rescue work at night, the officials said.

Casualities

Police said Tuesday evening that 27-year-old Soumendu Bag had died in the collapse. A mini bus, four cars and a few motorcycles that were damaged in the bridge collapse were removed using cranes, the official said.

The chief minister has said a committee headed by Chief Secretary Malay De will investigate the cause of the collapse.

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. There were no casualties.

Published on September 05, 2018

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