Flyover collapse: Disaster teams were late, empty-handed, say angry locals

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Kolkata, March 31 (IANS) Amid sights of despair and distress, angry locals vented their ire against the West Bengal government’s “feeble” attempts to rescue the injured from the debris of the flyover that collapsed in the city on Thursday.

Their grievances were against the state’s disaster management units which, they said, “arrived late”.

Many people protested when city mayor Sovan Chattopadhyay arrived at the spot to take stock of the situation.

“The teams came late and with nothing that could help in the rescue process,” a resident of Girish Park area, that is close to the collapse site, told IANS.

“The team took gas cutters, beam cutters, ring cutters from an adjacent shop. They just came wearing jackets,” said another.

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Fourteen people were killed when a flyover under construction crashed in a crowded market area on Thursday, crushing scores of unsuspecting people and vehicles, police and witnesses said.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who rushed to Kolkata after cancelling election rallies in West Midnapore district, said 70 others were injured in the incident that occurred around 12.30 p.m.

Hundreds of locals were the first to reach the site at Posta area in the city’s northern part to see how best they could rescue those buried in the heaps of debris before official rescue workers and police joined them.

The army too deployed dozens of medical teams and engineers.

“It was only when the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) arrived, the rescue momentum picked up. They had all the necessary equipment,” said a spectator.

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Locals pitched in whatever way they could. Some handed out bottles of water to those pinned under mangled mass of concrete and metal. Others rushed the injured to hospitals in their own vehicles. Many did their bit by donating blood.

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