Mumbai: At least six persons were killed and 31 others injured when a section of a foot-over bridge outside Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus collapsed on Thursday around 7:30 pm, police said.
Two of the dead have been identified as Apoorva Prabhu and Ranjana Tambe. Both were nurses on their way to report for duty at GT Hospital. The other deceased were identified as Bhakti Shinde (40), Zahid Shiraj Khan (32), Tapendra Singh (28) and Mohan, said the disaster management cell of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
According to reports, many are feared trapped under the debris.
— ANI (@ANI) March 14, 2019
The injured have been taken to nearby hospitals. The bridge connected the bustling CST station with the Azad Maidan police station.
The Mumbai police tweeted that senior officers are at the spot.
Foot over bridge connecting CST platform 1 north end with B T Lane near Times of India building has collapsed. Injured persons are being shifted to hospitals. Traffic affected. Commuters to use alternate routes. Senior officers are on spot.
— Mumbai Police (@MumbaiPolice) March 14, 2019
The foot-over bridge is maintained by the Brihamumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Maharashtra minister Vinod Tawde said the railways ministry and BMC would conduct an inquiry.
“A slab of the bridge had collapsed. Railways and BMC will conduct an inquiry into its maintenance. The bridge wasn’t in a bad condition, it required minor repairs for which work was underway. Why was it not closed until the work was completed, it’ll also be probed,” ANI quoted Tawde as saying.
“Pained to hear about the foot over bridge incident near TOI building in Mumbai. Spoke to BMC Commissioner and Mumbai Police officials and instructed to ensure speedy relief efforts in coordination with Railway Ministry officials,” Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis told ANI.
He announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the deceased and said a high-level committee will probe the circumstances under which the 40-year-old overbridge collapsed.
A case has been registered against officials of the 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 on 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”.
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.
Lawmakers and local party leaders rushed to the spot as political blame-game ensued.
Arvind Sawant, the local Shiv Sena MP, said, “This bridge was under minor-repairing after the audit of all bridges in the city. Action will be initiated against the responsible officials.”
Local BJP MLA Raj Purohit also visited the spot and demanded immediate action against the engineer who had declared the bridge as ‘safe’. “He should be arrested right now. He is responsible for the entire disaster.”
Local Shiv Sena corporator Sujata Sanap said she had alerted officials about the structure, but they did not act in time. “I have been pursuing the issue of this unsafe bridge for long and also wrote so many letters to officials but they were ignored.”
Congress leader Milind Deora said murder charge should be slapped on auditors who inspected the bridge and the BMC officers who appointed them. “Mumbaikars feel very unsafe in the city, considering the frequent incidents of bridge collapses,” the former MP said.
“I am not politicising the issue, but hollow promises are not going to serve the people anyway. This is failure of the government and the system,” he added.
Last year in July, two people died and several were injured when part of a 47-year-old road overbridge across the railway line at Andheri collapsed on the tracks between Andheri and Vile Parle stations on the Western Railway’s suburban line.
On September 29, 2017, in a tragedy at a foot overbridge linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations, 23 persons were killed and over 30 injured in a rush hour stampede.
(With inputs from PTI)