An under-construction flyover collapses in Kolkata, Mar. 31. (Ashok Bhaumik | PTI)
Motionless bodies, body parts smeared in blood, scattered iron girdles and concrete slabs of collapsed part of an under-construction flyover were at the site teeming with hundreds of policemen, rescue workers, Army men, a couple of hours after the tragedy. (@Siliconeer, #Siliconeer, #KolkataFlyoverCollapse)
APRIL 1: The rescue operation at the Kolkata flyover collapse site has ended but the special relief teams that were sent there have been kept on standby, NDRF today said.
NDRF Director General O.P. Singh told PTI the force’s personnel have scoured the entire accident area and there were no more “dead or live victims”. However, there is a possibility of one body still being trapped.
“We have thoroughly examined the area and there is no evidence of any dead or live victim. But, despite this, all the 10 teams sent for the task will be on standby till the West Bengal government asks them to retreat,” he said.
The DG said his teams are in touch with state agencies and any further task will be undertaken as per their requirement.
Twenty four people were killed and around 90 injured after a 60 meter-long stretch of the 2.2 km under-construction flyover had crashed down Mar. 31 afternoon on a congested road intersection in Kolkata. The condition of seven persons hospitalized is stated to be “very critical.”
Responding to the emergency, NDRF had sent teams from various locations to the accident site for rendering rescue tasks.
Scattered shoes, slippers, water bottles, broken glass panes, hand bags were seen all over the busy Vivekananda Road and Tagore Street crossing spot, called the Ganesh Talkies area, as the security personnel and rescuers were sifting through the rubble in search of survivors.
The collapse caused at least 18 deaths and over 78 injuries, per latest estimates at the time of filing this report. The number of injured and deceased is feared to be much higher.
Narrating the sequences, a roadside fruit seller Amzad Hussain said the incident took place at around 12:10 PM.
“It appeared that the whole sky came down. The sound was deafening and the whole area was trembling. Initially I thought it was an earthquake. In fact, seeing people running helter-skelter I ran away from my shop and as I found a massive dust swirling in air, I realized that the bridge has collapsed,” Amzad said.
It was the locals who rushed to the spot and started the initial rescue work before informing police and fire office.
Teams of policemen, state disaster management teams, CRPF, CRP, Army men poured in as locals climbed upon the rubbles in an attempt to rescue survivors at the scene, where multiple vehicles including cars, auto rickshaw were crushed and trapped under the bridge.
Kins, family members were hysterically moving around with printouts of parents and asking policemen whether they have been spotted from the underneath the collapsed portion of the bridge in the central part of the city.
Ajay Kondai and his wife Sarita Kondai, of the nearby Natunbazar Rajbari locality were passing by the area when the mishap happened, their relative Asit Kondai said.
“They were passing by this area by that time. We do not know whether they are trapped underneath the rubbles or not. Phone calls to their numbers remain unanswered… So we have come here with their photos to get information about them,” Asit said.
Later, the duo were declared dead at Calcutta Medical College Hospital.
An emotional Sujit Shaw, whose son Vikash had a close shave, said, “I thought he was dead. I was crying and asking locals whether they can spot him underneath the rubble … Suddenly, somebody told me that Vikash was on the other side of the road.”
Recalling the moments of horror, Vikash said, “I was crossing the road. Suddenly, I for no reason felt like sprinting … Trust me there was no reason, I just felt like running and cross the road … I know that it’s because of Hanumanji I have survived the collapse. I have got a new lease of life,” muttered Vikash, standing next to his father.
As the father-son duo, like several others watched helplessly, the rescue operation was on full swing.
Besides Army personnel, a special team of Kolkata Police, Kolkata Traffic Police, teams from the state police, fire department, NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) were using Gas cutters, Cranes Gaps to open the iron girdles while locals were helping them to carry on work.
Besides, helping the Army in rescuing the bodies trapped underneath the rubble and debris, few locals were also seen helping those injured reaching nearest medical facilities.
“We did what we can do best… But we could not do much because the iron girdles and the concrete slabs are very heavy to be handled by bare hands,” Yousuf Ali, a 23-year-old local youth said.
Private ambulances of local organizations besides trauma care ambulances were moving back and forth to carry the injured to different hospitals in the city.
“The local boys have done a commendable job. They were of great help today. Their knowledge of the locality and help to steer the ambulances move out from the congested area have been of great help,” a senior police officer said.