COLLAPSE: The steel bridge fell on a busy road in India (Pic credit: YouTube)
COLLAPSE: The steel bridge fell on a busy road in India (Pic credit: YouTube)

At least 24 killed in Calcutta after steel bridge falls on busy road

In the eastern Indian city of Calcutta, a flyover under construction has collapsed in a cloud of rubble, killing at least 24 people and injuring others.

The concrete and steel bridge fell on a busy road teeming with traffic with many people feared to be trapped under debris.

Residents have been using their bare hands to help the rescue effort.

Construction projects in the country have been plagued by safety issues such as a lack of inspections and the use of substandard materials.

The accident occurred in an area near Girish Park, one of Calcutta’s most crowded neighbourhoods and a bustling commercial district.

Reuters news agency says the 1.2 mile flyover has been under construction since 2009 and missed several deadlines for completion.

The collapsed structure appears to have hit passers-by, cars, lorries and nearby buildings. People are even said to have been living in makeshift homes under the flyover.

Ramesh Kejriwal, an eyewitness, told Reuters: “There was a loud sound which scared us. The concrete had been laid last night at this part of the bridge.”

A rescue official told AFP news agency at least 60 of those injured have been taken to nearby hospitals and some of them are in critical conditions.

Emergency teams have been sent to the area with sniffer dogs, concrete cutters, drilling machines and sensors, he added.

Police have been holding back relatives desperate for news of the missing.

As the operation continues, angry relatives arrive looking for their loved ones. At the same time, more bodies are being carried away.

The army and national disaster agency in India have also joined the rescue operation.

Witnesses, however, say there are no signs of a co-ordinated response on the ground.

Indian company IVRCL is building the overpass, according to its website. Its director of operations, A.G.K. Murthy, said the company was not sure of the cause of the disaster.

“We did not use any inferior quality material and we will cooperate with the investigators,” Murthy told reporters in Hyderabad where the firm is based.

“We are in a state of shock.”

On Twitter, 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’.

India is riddled with unsafe buildings and collapsing structures are a common problem.

In August 2015, at least 11 people died after a building collapsed near India’s western city of Mumbai. In April 2013, 74 people were killed after a high-rise residential building in Mumbai collapsed.