Lack of maintenance led to Kolkata bridge collapse: Locals

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Kolkata : The locals in Kolkata cited the lack of maintenance as the reason behind the collapse of the Majerhat bridge that killed a man and injured at least 19 others.

Rescue operations continued on Wednesday after a portion of the 40-year-old bridge collapsed on Diamond Harbour Road in south Kolkata a day earlier. Two persons are still reported missing.

A group of local youths, who first jumped into the rescue work after Tuesday's disaster, much before the police and disaster management personnel reached the spot, said they managed to pull out 10-12 people from the toppled vehicles and blamed the lack of maintenance of the bridge for the collapse.

"We were sitting at the platform when the bridge collapsed. Suddenly we heard a massive thud. We ran towards the collapse site to rescue the people who were trapped under the rubble. A minibus, three private cars and seven bikes were trapped when the collapse happened," recalled Vikram Das, a local teenager.

"I could see a hand of a bike rider sticking out from the debris. He was entirely trapped under a broken slab of concrete. We gathered 20-25 people to move the slab and pulled him out and splashed water on his face but he collapsed and died immediately," he said of Soumen Bagh, a resident of South Kolkata's Behala, who was declared dead at the SSKM Hospital later.

Several other locals also expressed anger over the lack of maintenance of the bridge.

Ratan Swai, a shopkeeper, who had a clear view of the bridge collapse, said he has hardly seen any repair work on the bridge for the last couple of years.

"I am running this shop for the last 10 years right outside the station here. I have seen the bridge being painted in blue and white and decorated with lights during festivities. But I have not seen any repair work for last two years," he said.

"Luckily this part collapsed on the canal so there have not been many casualties. But the underpass of the bridge is extremely vulnerable. Slabs of concrete are hanging loose. Imagine what would happen if that part collapses," he exclaimed.

The police has lodged a suo-motu case against the persons responsible for the incident. The West Bengal government has also initiated a probe into the mishap.