Kolkata Flyover Collapse: Army Preps For All-Night Rescue

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Kolkata: The army has sent around 500 soldiers and engineers and three medical teams to Kolkata, where an under-construction flyover collapsed today, killing at least 15 people and trapping scores under hundreds of tons of steel and concrete.

The team brought with them crucial equipment, including drilling machines, gas cutters, seven water tankers and state-of-the art sensors. They are using heavy duty cranes supplied by the Delhi metro. A special team of engineers from Panagarh-based Mountain Strike Corps is also on way, with more specialised equipment.

It was an emotional moment as the armymen arrived. The locals and the firefighters, who till then had been struggling to remove huge chunks of concrete with their bare hands to pull out the injured, broke into a spontaneous applause.

The men had been at work since the Vivekananda Setu, located in the middle of a busy commercial area in Central Kolkata, collapsed around 12.15 pm, trapping pedestrians and a number of light and heavy vehicles.

The army has brought thermal imaging cameras, which are now being used to search for survivors under the debris. The operation, an army spokesman said, could last all night.

The army engineers are coordinating with metro, railways and construction companies to deploy the heavy equipment, which is proving difficult, given the narrow, congested roads.

The three medical teams, complete with doctors, surgeons, nurses and three ambulances are standing by for emergencies.

An eyewitness has said at least 150 people are likely to be trapped under the huge concrete blocks. Television footage showed a bloody hand reaching out from under what appeared to be a massive girder. People were seen trying to hand bottles of water to survivors pinned underneath the rubble.

Officials fear many more may die in what the state government has called a monumental tragedy.

The 2-km flyover was being constructed at Burrabazar, a busy area in central Kolkata near the famous Ganesh Talkies. It has been under construction since 2009 and has missed several deadlines for completion.