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Kolkata Overpass Collapse Kills at Least 14, Scores Feared Trapped

Construction projects in India have long been plagued by lax safety standards.
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/ Source: Reuters

KOLKATA, India — An overpass under construction in the bustling Indian city of Kolkata collapsed on moving traffic Thursday, killing at least 14 people and trapping up to 150 people, police said.

Residents were using their bare hands to try to rescue people pinned under a 110-yard length of metal and cement that snapped off and came crashing down in a teeming commercial district near Girish Park.

Gallery: Overpass Collapses in India

"Monumental tragedy. Rescue ops on. Many feared dead," Derek O'Brien, spokesman for the left-wing party that governs the state of West Bengal of which Kolkata is the capital, said in a tweet.

Television footage from the scene showed a bloody hand reaching out from under what appeared to be a girder. People were trying to hand bottles of water to survivors pinned underneath.

Image: A view of the collapsed overpass
The collapsed overpass.REUTERS TV / Reuters

"The concrete had been laid last night at this part of the bridge," resident Ramesh Kejriwal told Reuters. "I am lucky as I was planning to go downstairs to have juice. When I was thinking about it, I saw that the bridge had collapsed."

A senior police officer on the scene said that 15 critically injured people had been rescued.

"Most were bleeding profusely. The problem is that nobody is able to drive an ambulance to the spot," said Akhilesh Chaturvedi, a senior police officer.

A 140-ton crane brought to the scene was unable to lift the concrete slab under which many people were feared trapped, including passengers in a minibus.

The 1.2-mile overpass has been under construction since 2009 and has missed several deadlines for completion. Construction projects in India have long been plagued by lax safety standards.