Kolkata: As a flyover in construction for years collapsed in Kolkata today, killing at least 21 people and leaving scores trapped, its builders pleaded "act of God".
- This hasn't happened to us ever, says official at construction company
- Opposition alleges flyover was being built without proper planning
- The flyover, under construction since 2009, had missed several deadlines
"It is nothing but God's act. This has not happened to us in 27 years," said K Panduranga Rao, a senior official of the Hyderabad-based IVRCL group.
Dr Rao said around 45 per cent of the flyover was unfinished.
"A girder must have been missed and another probably fell," he said, responding to reporters at the site where a massive rescue effort was in progress. He admitted that construction had been "going on for a few years".
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, however, told NDTV that "It is wrong for builders to be so casual in their statement... It is a big loss of human lives, strong action will be taken."
The company said that there were about 30-40 workers at the site when the bridge collapsed.
"They had completed the 69th slab and were moving onto the 70th. It could have been the way one of the girders was placed that probably caused the accident," said a top company official in Hyderabad.
The 2-km flyover has been under construction since 2009 and has missed several deadlines for completion.
A newspaper reported last November that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wanted the much-delayed project to be completed by February.
Opposition parties allege that the flyover was being built without proper planning and rules had been overlooked to allow its construction at a teeming commercial area.
The IVRCL, with a net turnover of more than Rs 5,000 crore, is headquartered in Hyderabad with offices in more than a dozen cities including Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and New Delhi.
Helpline numbers: 1070, 033-2214-3526, 033-2253-5185, 033-2214-5664