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Mass casualties feared as flyover collapses in Indian city: 14 dead, 78 injured

31 march 2016, 16:36
0
A picture posted on Twitter of the scene in Kolkata where a bridge has collapsed. @MetroTelegraph
A picture posted on Twitter of the scene in Kolkata where a bridge has collapsed. @MetroTelegraph
A flyover under construction collapsed in Kolkata, India on March 31, 2016. Photo courtesy of NDTV Twitter page.
A flyover under construction collapsed in Kolkata, India on March 31, 2016. Photo courtesy of NDTV Twitter page.

A partially built flyover collapsed in India's eastern city of Kolkata on Thursday, killing at least one person and injuring scores, with many more feared trapped under mounds of debris, an official and a lawmaker is quoted by AFP as saying.

14 are known to be dead and 78 injured.

Police and passers-by were using their hands to try to move giant slabs of concrete and metal to reach those trapped, after the bridge collapsed at around lunchtime on a busy road, television footage showed.

"One person is confirmed dead. Sixty-two people who were trapped under the debris have been shifted to hospital, some of them are critical," Anurag Gupta, National Disaster Management Authority spokesman, told AFP.

Gupta said it was unclear how many people were still trapped under the debris but said "pedestrians as well as vehicles came under the falling flyover".

Specialist rescue teams armed with concrete cutters, drilling machines, sensors to detect life and sniffer dogs were being rushed to the scene, Gupta added.     

Television footage showed one bloodied body trapped under a concrete slab, and also the hand of a person sticking out from under twisted debris. 

"Monumental tragedy. Rescue ops on. Many feared dead," tweeted Derek O'Brien, a lawmaker and spokesman for the ruling Trinamool Congress Party in West Bengal state, of which Kolkata is the capital.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he was monitoring the situation adding that he was "deeply saddened to know that precious lives have been lost in the Kolkata accident".

An eyewitness at the scene described a loud bang "like a bomb blast and suddenly there was a lot of smoke and dust". 

"I looked at the other side of the road and people were screaming 'the bridge is collapsing'," the unnamed man told television networks. 

The Press Trust of India news agency, citing police, said one person was dead with an unknown number of others trapped.

Kolkata is the venue of this Sunday's World T20 cricket final.

The accident is the latest in a string of deadly construction collapses in India, some of which have highlighted shoddy building standards.

A huge demand for housing, roads and other infrastructure in India often results in cost-cutting and a lack of safety inspections.


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