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India – ‘At least 10 killed in bridge collapse’

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At least 10 people are feared dead after a portion of an under-construction overpass collapsed in a congested area of the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, police said.

Many people were still trapped under the debris in the Girish Park area of Kolkata and efforts were underway to rescue those, according to police officials.

Video footage aired on TV channels showed a street scene with two auto rickshaws and a crowd of people suddenly obliterated by a mass of falling concrete that narrowly missed cars crawling in the traffic jam.

“The condition is pathetic. At this moment no one has any clue how many people are trapped,” said Raichand Mohta, a police officer at the scene.

Eyewitness Ravindra Kumar Gupta, a grocer, said two buses carrying more than 100 passengers were trapped. Eight taxis and six auto rickshaws were partly visible in the wreckage.

“Every night, hundreds of labourers would build the flyover and they would cook and sleep near the site by day,” said Gupta who, together with friends, pulled out six bodies.

“The government wanted to complete the flyover before the elections and the labourers were working on a tight deadline. Maybe the hasty construction led to the collapsel.”

Al Jazeera’s Divya Gopalan, reporting from Delhi, said the accident occured at a “very busy area”.

“Many people are raising questions about how this could have happened.

“The flyover has been under construction for five years and has missed several deadlines for completion,” she said. “So one of the reasons of the collapse could be lack of quality and safety control.”

India n company IVRCL was building the 2km Vivekananda Road flyover, according to its website, and its director of operations AGK Murthy said the company was unsure 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.”

Building collapses are common in India, where builders use poor enforcement of regulations and often use substandard materials.

[Source: Al-Jazeera]
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