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India Bridge Collapse Kills 18

Friday, May 18, 2018

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Officials are blaming weather for the collapse of an under-construction overpass bridge that killed at least 18 in Varanasi, India, Tuesday (May 15), but local police say they contacted the state-run contractor on the job numerous times in recent months over traffic-management issues, and now some senior staff are facing homicide charges.

While the managing director of the Uttar Pradesh State Bridge Corporation Ltd. reportedly said Wednesday that the root cause “may be a natural disaster,” referring to heavy thunderstorms that had recently hit the area where the bridge collapsed. Rajan Mittal told reporters that “preliminary findings point towards a loose cross-beam connection or a bearing failure” and that a beam may have been dislodged in a storm.

Police in the area, however, say they sent five letters to UPSBC in the past six months, registering concerns about the state of the jobsite and disruptions to traffic flowing under the flyover project. Uttar Pradesh police reportedly filed a First Information Report—essentially a criminal complaint—about the site in February.

Officials Face Charges

Parts of the concrete viaduct structure fell on traffic below, crushing cars and a bus and trapping victims, including many of the construction workers on the job.

A number of supervisors and staff for the bridge firm were reportedly booked Wednesday on culpable homicide charges; four officials, including project managers and engineers, were suspended by the company after the incident.

Finger-Pointing

Mittal told reporters that while Uttar Pradesh police said they attempted to hold UPSBC responsible for traffic management at the site, which they called “chaotic,” the firm in fact believes it was the government that was responsible for traffic control. Mittal said the bridge firm tried to reach district officials multiple times about traffic issues; the local district magistrate denied that claim, according to The Indian Express.

UPSBC reportedly suspended all construction companywide in the wake of the collapse in order to assess the safety of its sites. According to the Hindustan Times, the firm is working on more than 200 bridges for completion in the next two years.

An investigation of the incident is underway.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; concrete; Contractors; Infrastructure

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