Death toll rises after collapse of flyover in Indian city of Kolkata

A 100-metre piece of a flyover under construction crashed onto vehicles and pedestrians in a busy shopping district

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Death toll rises after collapse of flyover in Indian city of Kolkata

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At least 23 people are now known to have died after a flyover bridge under construction in India collapsed.

Dozens of people have been injured in the tragedy in the eastern city of Kolkata and rescue efforts are still underway for survivors.

As many as a hundred people have already been pulled from the rubble, many with serious injuries.

A 100-metre piece of the flyover crashed onto vehicles and pedestrians below in a busy shopping district.

Homicide inquiry launched

Kolkata is the capital of the state of West Bengal, and the Chief Minister there is promising a full investigation and prosecution if any negligence is found.

The police say they have opened a “homicide” inquiry.

But the state government is itself facing questions over the construction project, which is already five years overdue.

A local newspaper reported last November that engineers expressed concern that a deadline for completion by February, as requested by the government, might not be possible.

The disaster is likely to have an impact on elections next month.

An “act of God”

There is also anger against the construction company building the flyover, IVRCL, after one of its managers said the collapse was an “act of God”.

“We did not use any inferior quality material and we will cooperate with the investigators,” said the director of operations, A.G.K. Murthy.

“We are in a state of shock,” he said.

The Reuters news agency quoted witnesses who said safety standards on the construction site have been an issue.

“Every night, hundreds of labourers would build the flyover and they would cook and sleep near the site by day,” said Ravindra Kumar Gupta, a grocer, who pulled out six bodies, together with his friends.

“The government wanted to complete the flyover before the elections and the labourers were working on a tight deadline.

“Maybe the hasty construction led to the collapse.”