A portion of an under-construction flyover near the railway station in Varanasi collapsed Tuesday killing at least 18 persons while more were feared trapped under the debris, officials said.
Several people and vehicles are still feared buried under the rubble and rescue operations are on. Many vehicles, including two-wheelers, that were passing by were crushed under the weight of the concrete slabs of the flyover, which was being constructed by the Uttar Pradesh State Bridge Corporation.
Eighteen bodies have been recovered from the Varanasi flyover collapse site, UP Relief Commissioner Sanjay Kumar told PTI in Lucknow.
“It is feared that several people are buried under the rubble,” an official said, adding rescue teams were at spot to rescue those trapped.
Some vehicles, including a bus, were crushed in the collapse, they said. At least three persons had been rescued, a National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) official said. The NDRF has deployed five teams comprising 250 personnel for the rescue operation
The Uttar Pradesh Bridge Construction Corporation was constructing the 2261-metre-long bridge at a cost of Rs 129 crore, officials said. The span which fell today was laid barely three months ago, they added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who represents Varanasi in the Lok Sabha, and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath expressed grief over the deaths. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya rushed to the spot, an official spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, the opposition targeted the state government over the tragedy in the “top-priority constituency of the country”.
Chief Minister Adityanath set up a three-member committee to probe the flyover collapse. Adityanath also announced a Rs five lakh ex-gratia to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs two lakh to the seriously injured, an official said.
The chief minister also directed the district administration and PWD officials to take all necessary steps for relief and rescue operations.
“Extremely saddened by the loss of lives due to the collapse of an under-construction flyover in Varanasi. I pray that the injured recover soon. Spoke to officials and asked them to ensure all possible support to those affected,” Modi tweeted.
In another tweet, the prime minister said he had spoken to Adityanath. “The UP Government is monitoring the situation very closely and is working on the ground to assist the affected,” he said.