26 people were killed when a flyover under construction crashed in a crowded market area in the busy Arrah area of Kolkata on Thursday, crushing scores of unsuspecting people and vehicles, police and witnesses said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who rushed to Kolkata after cancelling election rallies in West Midnapore district, said 70 others had been injured in the ghastly disaster which occurred around 12.30 p.m.
A National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) official put the number of injured at around 100.
Hundreds of locals were the first to reach the site at Posta area in the city’s northern part to see how best they could rescue those buried in the heaps of debris before official rescue workers and police joined them.
The army too deployed dozens of medical teams and engineers. Police and military ambulances raced to the site and transported the badly injured as as well as nearly dying to hospitals.
The soldiers are using specialized equipment to rescue those trapped under tonnes of steel and concrete, a defence ministry spokesman said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed “shock” over the tragedy. “My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives,” he tweeted. “May the injured recover at the earliest.”
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he had spoken to NDRF Director General O.P. Singh to coordinate relief work. He has also briefed the Prime Minister who is in Washington on the incident.
The accident spot represented a horrific site. Body parts were strewn in the debris. Blood was splattered on the streets.
A video of the disaster showed the Vivekananda Flyover – whose foundation was laid in 2008 and where work began in February 2009 – suddenly crashing with a roar, giving no time for anyone under it to escape.