At least 18 people are dead and dozens are trapped under tons of rubble after an overpass under construction collapsed in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata.
The overpass was being built in Kolkata’s densely populated Bara Bazar neighborhood, the Wall Street Journal reports.
“We have recovered 18 dead bodies,” Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal, of which Kolkata is the capital, told reporters.
At least 78 people are known to be trapped under the debris while 16 more have been hospitalized, she said.
More than 5,000 personnel are engaged in rescue work, Banerjee said.
The number of casualties could rise as officials try to lift a large metal truss that fell onto people and passing cars, a police official said.
Some police personnel were also suspected to be trapped under the debris, an official at the Kolkata police control room said by telephone.
Maj. Gen. Anurag Gupta, an adviser for operations in the federal rescue agency, said five teams have reached the site.
Rescue operations are continuing, with 63 people pulled from the debris, he said.
Footage on local TV channels shows the bridge collapsing, with people and cars on the busy road beneath it disappearing beneath the rubble.
“It is an act of God,” K. Panduranga Rao, head of human resources and administration at contractor IVRCL Ltd., the company building the overpass,said.
“We are shocked to know how this instance has happened.”
India’s efforts to rapidly build critical infrastructure, including overpasses over existing, crowded roads, means construction is often undertaken without adequate precautions to isolate sites.
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