32 killed, over 100 injured as wooden bridge collapses in Darjeeling

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Darjeeling:  At least 32 people have been killed and more than 100 injured as a wooden suspension bridge collapsed at Bijanbari, 40 kilometres from Darjeeling in West Bengal.

While 10 people died on the spot, the rest succumbed to their injuries in hospitals. The death toll may rise as some of those injured are critical.

Over 100 people had gathered on the bridge to listen to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders. The pressure of the crowd led to the collapse of the bridge.

The suspension bridge was built in 1972. It was meant for pedestrians but over time was used by motorcycles which weakened it.

The Army's Mountain Brigade at Darjeeling has sent troops to the site for assistance.

The West Bengal government has announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the families of those killed.

Superintendent of Police Anand Kumar said the death toll might go up.

North Bengal Development Minister Gautam Deb, who was at the spot, said the rescue operation was on in full swing and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was personally monitoring and supervising it.

Rescue operations were on through the night.

Asked whether many people were washed away by the current of Little Rangeet, Mr Kumar said he did not have any such information. "It was not much deep."

Gopal Roy, in-charge of the district disaster management, said the rescue operation was being conducted by the personnel of the fire brigade, police and the disaster management department.

Mamata Banerjee, who returned from New Delhi after the NDC meeting, said she would be in Darjeeling on Sunday along with Railway Minster Dinesh Trivedi and Union Minister of State for Health Sudip Bandopadhyay.

State Disaster Management Minister Javed Khan said all seriously injured persons were being shifted to the North Bengal Medial College Hospital.

(With PTI inputs)

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