UPDATE: 6:04 am EDT — Police in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, West Bengal, on Friday arrested five officials of a construction firm, which was given the contract to build an overpass that collapsed killing at least 24 people, the Associated Press reported. Sixty-seven people had been pulled from the rubble alive by Friday afternoon and the debris was cleared, the report added.
The overpass collapse in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata in West Bengal state has claimed lives of at least 23 people, while 90 others were rescued, reports said Friday. Officials of the construction firm responsible for building the overpass are likely to be arrested, government sources told local news network CNN-IBN.
The collapse of the partially built overpass occurred at a busy road near Ganesh Talkies in the city’s Girish Park Thursday afternoon. It has been under construction since 2009 and missed several deadlines for completion, according to reports.
K.P. Rao, a representative of the Indian construction company IVRCL, which was given the contract to build the overpass, called the tragedy an “act of God,” Agence France-Presse reported. Investigators sealed the company’s offices in Kolkata and police filed an initial charge of “culpable homicide not amounting to murder” against IVRCL, according to AFP.
“We did not use any inferior quality material and we will cooperate with the investigators,” Director of Operations A.G.K. Murthy said Thursday, according to AFP. “We are in a state of shock.”
Meanwhile, rescue operation is underway as officials believe many people are still trapped under rubble.
“Many of the people rescued have been seriously injured,” Police Commissioner Ajay Tyagi told Reuters. “Many could still be buried below the debris.”
According to local newspaper the Telegraph, last November West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wanted the overpass, which was 76 percent complete, to be built by February. However, the deadline passed and a new one was set for August. Banerjee reportedly said that those responsible for the disaster would be punished and blamed the previous state government that had given the contract in 2007.
The incident comes just ahead of the World T20 cricket final that is scheduled to take place in the city Sunday.