At least 19 people lost their lives and more than 12 were injured after they were crushed under two concrete beams that fell off 40-foot high pillars, of an under-construction flyover, in Varanasi. The huge slabs of concrete fell on the slow-moving traffic under the yet-to-open flyover.
The two concrete pillars came crashing down on a bus, two SUVs, two cars, an auto and some two-wheelers. The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that a huge relief force, comprising of 350 personnel from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Army Medical Corps and police were immediately put into action. It took this team more than four hours to extricate the bodies. The local slum dwellers swung into action before the NDRF could arrive. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath and deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya flew to Varanasi as soon as they heard about the mishap.
The twin beams that fell off the flyover were mounted on pillar no. 79 and 80. They were put in place only about a week ago and weren’t secured with the locking mechanism. The labourers and the contractor fled the sight as soon as the beams came crashing down.
An eyewitness commented, “Luckily, few passengers were seated in the bus when the beams fell. We rescued them from the wreckage and rushed them to the hospital on auto-rickshaws. But pulling out trapped people from mangled SUVs, cars and two-wheelers was impossible for us.” Another eyewitness said,“It was mayhem on a busy street. We could not fathom what was happening after the beams crashed with a bang. People were running everywhere in panic.”
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has announced an ex gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh each for the kin of those who lost their lives. The critically injured ones get a relief of Rs 2 lakh. The Chief Minister has also set up a three-member panel headed by agriculture production commissioner Raj Pratap Singh to investigate the matter and submit a preliminary report within 48 hours.