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Flyover collapses in Varanasi, kills 18

Updated May 16, 2018

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Varanasi (India): People crowd around the place where a section of the under-construction overpass collapsed.—AP
Varanasi (India): People crowd around the place where a section of the under-construction overpass collapsed.—AP

LUCKNOW: At least 18 people died on Tuesday after a flyover collapsed in northern India, crushing vehicles and passengers under tonnes of concrete, a rescue official said.

Rescue workers rushed to the site in Varanasi city where an unknown number of people were still feared trapped under the debris, in the latest of a string of deadly construction accidents in India.

“Eighteen bodies have been recovered so far by our teams. Seven teams of the NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) are engaged in rescue operation which is underway,” an official in the disaster control room said.

TV footage showed mangled vehicles trapped under heavy cement girders with huge crowds gathered around.

A witness said a section of the flyover, which was still under construction, collapsed onto the street, crushing buses and cars.

“I was near the flyover when it collapsed. At least four cars, an auto-rickshaw and a minibus were crushed under it,” the witness told reporters in Varanasi, a city in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Enforcement of safety rules in India is weak and substandard materials are often used in construction.

In 2016, some 26 people died in eastern Kolkata city after a 100-metre section of a flyover crashed down onto the street.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who won parliamentary elections in Varanasi, said he was extremely saddened by the loss of lives in his constituency.

“The UP (Uttar Pradesh) government is monitoring the situation very closely and is working on the ground to assist the affected,” he tweeted.

The state government has set up a three-member panel to investigate the deadly collapse.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2018