NEW DELHI (CNN) — An overpass collapsed Thursday in the Indian city of Kolkata, crushing vehicles below it, killing 15 people and leaving dozens more missing, authorities said.
More than 100 people were unaccounted for after the incident, which occurred in a busy commercial area north of the city’s center, said Sgt. Saurav Benerjee of Kolkata police.
However, authorities stressed that just because people have been reported missing doesn’t mean they’re trapped — it just means their whereabouts and conditions weren’t immediately known.
“Shocked and saddened by collapse of under construction flyover in Kolkata,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted. “My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives in Kolkata. May the injured recover at the earliest.”
India’s army has deployed four columns of rescue personnel, according to a tweet from a representative of the Indian Ministry of Defense. Three medical teams with two ambulances, doctors and nursing assistants are also there. And the National Disaster Response Force has five teams at the site, with two more on the way.
Video showed swarms of people on the scene in Girish Park, a crowded neighborhood with many wholesale markets, where one section of the flyover overpass had fallen off. Some carried out pieces of debris, and others used fire hoses to spray water around the debris.
They managed to pull at least 71 injured people from the rubble, said Maj. Gen. Anurag Gupta of India’s National Disaster Management Authority. It’s not clear if those were among the 100-plus people unaccounted for mentioned by Benerjee.
Other collapses around South Asia
It was around midday — which would have been a busy time in that part of Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal state and one of India’s biggest cities — when slabs from the flyover fell on moving vehicles below, Benerjee said.
That overpass had been under construction for five years, a duration that CNN’s Mallika Kapur in Mumbai said is not unusual in India.
Did that work have something to do with the collapse? Or did something else cause it?
Authorities didn’t immediately say, focusing first on the rescue operation.
Deadly accidents like these have happened before.
Nine people died when a three-story residential building in the Thane district of Maharashtra state collapsed last July.
Five years earlier, several people were critically injured when a pedestrian bridge under construction in New Delhi fell while workers were laying a concrete slab, said Rakesh Mishra, chief engineer of New Delhi’s Public Works Department.
Other parts of South Asia have seen similar incidents — both in structures under construction and those that had been standing for years.
A four-story building in the northwestern Pakistani city of Lahore undergoing construction on its fourth floor collapsed in November, killing at least 23 people and injuring 80 others, local official Muhammad Usman said.
And on the outskirts of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, more than 1,000 people died when a poorly constructed garment factory caved in almost three years ago.