AT LEAST labourers working on a railway bridge being built across a ravine in India’s eastern Mizoram state were killed when it collapsed on Wednesday (23), officials said, with others reported missing.
Video footage posted by Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga showed a metal frame that had toppled off towering columns into a wooded valley below.
“Under construction railway over bridge at Sairang, near Aizawl collapsed today; at least 17 workers died,” Zoramthanga, who uses only one name, said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The Indian Express newspaper quoted a policeman as saying that 17 bodies had been recovered and “many others” were missing. It was not possible to immediately verify the reports of people missing.
The Hindu newspaper, quoting state government officials, reported some 40 workers had been at the site when the bridge collapsed.
“Rescue operations are underway and all possible assistance is being given to those affected,” the office of prime minister Narendra Modi said.
Modi was “pained” by the accident and offered his “condolences to those who have lost their loved ones”, his office said on X.
The government will pay some $2,400 to the next of kin of those killed, it said.
Mizoram is in the far east of India, bordering Myanmar.
People had “come out in large numbers to help with rescue”, Zoramthanga said, adding he was “deeply saddened and affected by this tragedy”.
Accidents on large infrastructure construction sites are common in India.
At least 20 workers were crushed to death in western India this month when a crane collapsed above an under-construction expressway outside the financial capital Mumbai.
In October last year, 130 people were killed in Gujarat when a bridge collapsed soon after it was repaired.
And in 2016, the collapse of a flyover onto a busy street in Kolkata killed at least 26 people.