The death toll from the Kolkata Vivekananda flyover mishap reached 26, while the number of people injured was 89. A portion of the under-construction Vivekananda flyover, which was around 60-metre long, collapsed on the afternoon of 31st March 2016.
A senior Kolkata Police officer said, “This area is quite critical because of its proximity to residential buildings along the road. We were getting foul smell from underneath the rubble but we have to be very cautious while carrying out the rescue work…A single wrong step can lead to another mishap by bringing down the other part of the flyover”.
Post the flyover collapse, the West Bengal Chief Minister also accused the previous Left front government of clearing faulty flyover plans, and leaving these unfinished. Dubbing the flyovers “killer”, she said her government had been forced to shoulder their liability. Importantly, in the nine years since the Vivekananda flyover project was cleared, many red flags were raised over both the contractor and the project.
IVRCL officials’ first reaction to the Kolkata tragedy was calling it an “act of God”, seeking to portray it as a natural calamity.
According to one of the road safety expert, speaking on the causes of the tragedy, “Accidents arising from technical faults can occur. But what I find alarming is that there didn’t seem to have been any road safety measures in place in case of the flyover, which are mandatory for any construction, especially overhead. The steel girders used were of such weight that even cranes were not able to lift them. Even if a beam were to fall, no one would be able to get out alive”.
Meanwhile, four senior officials of the construction company IVRCL that was building the flyover were arrested by the police.
The Indian PM Modi also expressed shock and sadness over the loss of lives in the Vivekananda flyover collapse and instructed all possible help from central government in rescue and relief operations. Expressing his condolences, the Indian PM tweeted, "My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in Kolkata. May the injured recover at the earliest".