A partially built flyover collapsed in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata on Thursday, killing at least ten people and injuring scores, with more than 150 feared trapped under mounds of debris.
Police and passers-by were using their hands to try to move giant slabs of concrete and metal to reach those trapped, after the bridge collapsed at around lunchtime on a busy road, television footage showed.
Anurag Gupta, spokesperson for the National Disaster Management Authority, told reporters that more than 60 people who were trapped under the debris had been moved to hospitals in the area – many of them in critical condition.
Gupta said it was unclear how many people were still trapped under the debris but said “pedestrians as well as vehicles came under the falling flyover”.
Specialist rescue teams armed with concrete cutters, drilling machines, sensors to detect life and sniffer dogs were being rushed to the scene, Gupta added.
Television footage showed one bloodied body trapped under a concrete slab, and also the hand of a person sticking out from under twisted debris.
“Monumental tragedy. Rescue ops on. Many feared dead,” tweeted Derek O’Brien, a lawmaker and spokesman for the ruling Trinamool Congress Party in West Bengal state, of which Kolkata is the capital.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he was monitoring the situation adding that he was “deeply saddened to know that precious lives have been lost in the Kolkata accident”.
An eyewitness at the scene described a loud bang “like a bomb blast and suddenly there was a lot of smoke and dust”.
“I looked at the other side of the road and people were screaming ‘the bridge is collapsing’,” the unnamed man told television networks.
Kolkata is the venue of this Sunday’s World T20 cricket final.
The accident is the latest in a string of deadly construction collapses in India, some of which have highlighted shoddy building standards.
A huge demand for housing, roads and other infrastructure in India often results in cost-cutting and a lack of safety inspections.