A section of Majerhat bridge collapsed in south Kolkata earlier in the evening (PTI)
Kolkata: A section of a bridge on an arterial road in Kolkata next to the upmarket New Alipore area crashed down this evening just a little before 5 pm, killing at least one person and raising fears of others being trapped under the rubble. Police, army medics and locals, who rushed to the spot, have managed to rescue 24 people. The collapse sent shock waves through the city, where 26 people died two years ago in a similar tragedy, when a portion of an under-construction flyover crashed down. While the BJP blamed the Chief Minister and her government, Mamata Banerjee, who is on a visit to Darjeeling said rescue, and not fixing responsibility, is the need of the hour.
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Part of the bridge, locally known as the Majherhat bridge which runs over rail tracks, caved in around 4.45 pm. Videos from the spot showed the enormous chunk resting on the street below, at least nine vehicles, including a minibus, stuck on it.
"We are constantly monitoring the situation. We are initiating a probe so that everything can be found out and we are taking steps on an emergency basis to rescue those who are trapped," said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The Chief Minister said she was trying to reach Kolkata, but no flights are available. It takes close to four hours to get down to the plains by car on a rainy day. City mayor Sovan Chatterjee is at the accident site with army, police and fire officials.
The army said it has kept three columns on standby. A field hospital detachment has also been sent to the spot. For now, rescuers are focussing on removing the debris with earthmovers said Sanjay Kumar, a senior officer of the National Disaster Relief Force.
"The collapse of a part of a bridge in Kolkata is deeply unfortunate. My thoughts are with the families of the victims. I pray that those who are injured recover at the earliest," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi said the 40-year-old bridge "deserved better maintenance". "There was a report on a pit here for quite sometime, I don't know whether the Public Works Department noted it. PWD and railway administration had the responsibility to maintain it. The matter requires investigation," he added.
BJP's Mukul Roy said the state government and the Chief Minister were responsible for the bridge collapse. "They are saying beautification of city is on, but repair work of old constructions is not on her mind. The state government should take complete responsibility for this collapse," he said.
The bridge collapse hit traffic movement to and from vast areas in south-west Kolkata and adjacent South 24 Parganas district.
Services on the city's Circular Railway and local train services in Budge Budge-Sealdah line were affected. The local train services were suspended from 4.45 pm, a spokesperson of Eastern Railway said.
In March 2016, a section of an under-construction flyover had collapsed in central Kolkata's busy Burrabazar area. Twenty-six people had died I the tragedy and nearly 90 people were injured. Eight engineers were arrested in the case.