At least six people were killed and 31 injured after a major portion of a foot overbridge near the Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus Railway station collapsed Thursday evening.
The bridge, which connected the area near the Times of India building with the iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railway station, was commonly called 'Kasab bridge' as the 26/11 Mumbai attack terrorist passed through it during the strike.
The incident took place during the peak rush hour, once again raising questions over the safety of such pedestrian structures.
A big slab of the footver bridge came crashing at around 7.20 pm due to which several pedestrians were injured, ANI said.
NDRF: As per the information received, a part of foot over bridge near CSMT station in Mumbai collapsed. As per initial information 10-12 persons are feared to be trapped under the debris. An NDRF team has been moved from Andheri center. Visuals from the spot. pic.twitter.com/kPY2lU8HuO
" ANI (@ANI) March 14, 2019
Mumbai Police, Fire Brigade and other rescue agencies arrived at the spot and immediately evacuated those buried under the rubble and shifted them to hospitals.
The deceased were identified as Apoorva Prabhu (35), Anjana Tambe (40), Bhakti Shinde (40), Zahid Shiraj Khan (32), Tapendra Singh (28) and Mohan, said the disaster management cell of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Prabhu and Tambe were employees of the GT Hospital, the officials said.
All the injured have been rushed to nearby hospitals, a disaster management cell official said. The bridge connected the area near The Times of India building with the iconic CSMT station.
Some motorists who were passing beneath the bridge when it came down, were among those injured, he added. While six injured were admitted to the nearby St George hospital, 10 were shifted to the GT hospital, he said.
Mumbai: Visuals from St George Hospital where some of the people, injured in foot over bridge near CSMT railway station collapse, have been taken. 34 people are injured, 2 people dead. pic.twitter.com/G3vIrPU8yE " ANI (@ANI) March 14, 2019
"Fire brigade personnel reached the spot immediately and rescue work is in full swing. We have appealed the motorists to avoid the DN road to JJ flyover section," he said.
Maharashtra minister Vinod Tawde said that the railway and BMC will conduct a joint enquiry of the incident. "There were minor damages in the bridge and the maintenance was going on, why the bridge was not closed during this period will be part of the enquiry," he added.
#UPDATE Disaster Management Unit (DMU) of BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation): Four people have died in the incident where part of a foot over bridge near CSMT railway station collapsed. #Mumbai pic.twitter.com/3hojDGKrbL
" ANI (@ANI) March 14, 2019
A case has been registered against officials of Central Railway and the BMC in connection with the incident, police said.
"We have registered an offence under section 304A (causing death by negligence) of the IPC at the Azaad Maidan police station," said Manjunath Singe, spokesperson of the Mumbai Police.
Civic authorities started dismantling the remaining portion of the overbridge late Thursday night.
Additional Municipal Commissioner of the BMC, Vijay Singhal, said the remaining portion of the damaged bridge is being dismantled manually. He said action will be taken against the firm that conducted the structural audit of the bridge.
Deven Bharti, Joint Commissioner (Law & Order), told PTI that police "will, for sure, launch an inquiry into the incident".
The tragedy comes eight months after another bridge collapsed in suburban Andheri, in which five persons were killed.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the family of the deceased and said a high-level committee will probe the circumstances under which the 40-year-old overbridge collapsed.
"The injured persons will get Rs 50,000 each and the government will bear the cost of their treatment," Fadnavis said, adding that officials found responsible for the incident will be booked.
A 45-member team of the National Disaster Response Force was at the site.
An eyewitness said the over-bridge was being used by pedestrians even as repair works were ongoing.
Several motorists were also under the bridge when it came down, which led to an increase in the number of injured, an official said. "We have appealed the motorists to avoid the D N Road to JJ Flyover section."
Another eyewitness said most of the victims were walking on the overbridge on their way to the CST station when it collapsed. "Thankfully, when the bridge collapsed, it was red signal at the nearby road, otherwise several people would definitely have been crushed under the rubble," said a taxi driver, who luckily escaped the tragedy.
Faizan Ahmad, who witnessed the incident, said it appeared as if a powerful bomb went off. "The dust and cries of the victims filled us with fear and we soon realised that a bridge has fallen." Manish Jha, a reporter with a Hindi daily, had a lucky escape. "It looked like I had near death experience. The moment I walked on the bridge, I felt its floors vigorously swaying," he said. Amid tragic scenes, some people were seen taking selfies with the debris of the bridge in the background.
Lawmakers and local party leaders rushed to the spot as political blame-game ensued.
"This is a very unfortunate incident. Every time when such incidents occur, discussions are held but again the same thing is repeated. There is utmost corruption in local bodies. Investigations must be done and concerned people must be held accountable," said Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi.
"Government should act against the structural auditors who had given this bridge a safety certificate. FIR must be lodged under Section 302 of IPC," said Congress leader Milind Deora.
BJP leader and MLA Raj Purohit said, "This incident should not have happened and people shouldn't have lost lives. They must be arrested and punished. After the railway bridge collapse, the audit was ordered of all such bridges. The action should be taken against the engineer whosoever had done the audit of this bridge and given the safety certificate."
Shiv Sena leader Arvind Sawant told reporters that the BMC was maintaining the bridge. "During the audit, 'minor repairing' was consulted for this bridge. Whoever consulted minor repairing will have to be investigated."
The Railway Ministry said that the bridge belonged to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), but the Ministry is extending all support to the victims. "Railway doctors and personnel are cooperating with BMC in relief and rescue operations," informed Railways.
The bridge, which falls within the Mata Ramabai Ambedkar Marg Police Station, is just two minutes walk from the BMC headquarter.
Information about the injured and the victims can be availed from the BMC Disaster Management Number +919833806409
With inputs from agencies