India's city flyover collapse results in deaths of dozens
The death toll from the flyover collapse in India's eastern city of Kolkata reached 24 on Friday (April 1) as rescue operations entered their last leg.
On Thursday (March 31), a 100-metre (110-yard) length of a flyover in a teeming commercial district near the city's Girish Park broke off suddenly and crashed down on pedestrians and vehicles on the road below.
Rescuers worked through the night with cranes and jackhammers to clear concrete slabs and steel girders.
Ninety were rescued, many with serious trauma injuries, but chances of finding survivors in the wreckage had dwindled by Friday.
"Total (death toll) till now is 24. Injured people, some of them are in a slightly precarious condition, some of them have been discharged and the total figure is around 89," Kolkata's Police Commissioner Rajiv Mishra said, adding that the search and rescue operation was finishing.
Indian company IVRCL, according to its website, was building the the 2-km (1.2-mile) Vivekananda Road flyover. Its shares fell another 6 percent on Friday as police announced they had opened a case of culpable homicide.
The local offices of IVRCL were sealed and a police team was on its way to interview bosses at the company's headquarters in the southern city of Hyderabad, according to reports.
A senior IVRCL manager drew national condemnation for calling the disaster an act of God.
The legal head of IVRCL Seetha Peddapathi said the company was anxious and willing to cooperate with an investigation.
"IVRCL and its concerned staff will cooperate with the investigation. We will give the maximum support what we have to give. We are anxious to know why it happened as well. We want to know the reason why it happened,"Seetha Peddapathi said.
The flyover has been under construction since 2009 and has missed several deadlines for completion.
Years of delays may have caused corrosion to metal elements of the flyover, undermining its stability, according to rescuers who examined the wreckage. Locals said that concrete was poured on the stretch the night before its collapse.
Prayers for the victims were held the site of the collapse as evening drew near.
Reporting by REUTERS