Many feared dead as bridge collapses in Varanasi, India

Many feared dead as bridge collapses in Varanasi, India

Multiple people are feared dead after a bridge under construction collapsed in the Indian city of Varanasi on the afternoon of Tuesday May 15.

The disaster took place during rush hour traffic. According to initial eyewitness reports distributed by the Times of India, a "huge concrete slab" fell from the flyover onto the overcrowded service lane near Varanasi Cantt station. A passenger-carrying bus and four cars were hit by the slab, which caused several deaths. It is not yet known what caused the flyover to collapse.

Pictures shared on social media purporting to be from the scene have shown individuals being pulled from crushed cars. While early reports claim that 16 people have been killed, this number is expected to rise further as authorities are struggling to gain access to those still trapped. According to CNN News 18, several construction workers are believed to be among the dead.

It is understood that India's National Disaster Response Force has been dispatched to lead rescue and recovery efforts, with local news organisation NDTV reporting that eight cranes are being used to lift debris. Police in the area have tweeted a request for people to avoid the area, stating that crowds act as a hinderance to rescue efforts and that the area still poses a danger.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent his condolences to those involved, saying: "Extremely saddened by the loss of lives due to the collapse of an under-construction flyover in Varanasi. I pray that the injured recover soon. Spoke to officials and asked them to ensure all possible support to those affected."

The Indian congress later followed this with their own tweet expressing their sorrow over the incident: "We are deeply saddened by the news of the collapse of an under-construction flyover in #Varanasi. Our thoughts are with the families of those who have lost their lives. We wish those who are injured a speedy recovery."

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has already stated that a compensation of 500,000 rupees ($7300 USD) will be awarded to the families of those killed in the collapse, and 200,000 rupees ($2900) for those who have been injured.

The incident will no doubt reawaken painful memories of the 2016 Kolkata bridge collapse, in which over 50 people were killed and 80 injured when another under-construction flyover gave way. In the aftermath of this incident, the construction company IVRCL was charged with murder.