18 killed, several trapped in flyover collapse
"It is nothing but God's act," claimed Panduranga Rao of the Hyderabad-based IVRCL Construction company engaged in the flyover's construction, drawing all round flak.
Police said that 18 persons have so far died in the incident in Burrabazar area, which houses the city's largest wholesale market, while several others were injured.
The injured were rushed to hospitals in the vicinity.
State administration officials said 62 people have been injured and taken to hospital, while several others were feared trapped under the debris.
A number of vehicles were also crushed under the concrete and steel debris.
CCTV footage showed people, cars, autorickshaws and hawkers coming under the collapsed structure. Some trying to flee the spot were also trapped.
A bloody hand from under a girder gestured for help as people handed over water bottles to survivors pinned underneath.
A blame game erupted with the ruling Trinamool Congress blaming the previous Left Front government, which started construction of the flyover when it was in power, and the Left parties hitting back.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said,"The tender was passed in 2009 by the erstwhile Left Front government and was given to Hyderabad-based IVRCL Construction," adding that the company had not provided the government details of the construction plan despite several reminders.
Four columns of Army personnel (about 300 in number) alongwith NDRF, state disaster management, city police and fire brigade personnel joined in rescue operations.
"Stringent action will be taken against officials of the construction company and others involved," the chief minister, who cut short her election campaign in West Midnapore district and rushed back to the city, said.
State chief secretary Basudeb Banerjee announced compensation of Rs five lakh to the kin of each of the dead, Rs three lakh to those injured seriously and Rs one lakh to those less injured.
"The government will bear all costs for treatment of the injured," he added.