Darjeeling bridge collapse toll rises to 32October 23rd, 2011 - 12:24 pm ICT by IANS
Darjeeling, Oct 23 (IANS) With the recovery of five more bodies, the death toll in the bridge collapse in this north Bengal district has shot up to 32, besides leaving 132 injured, a district official said Sunday.
“The death count is now 32, while 132 are wounded,” Darjeeling District Magistrate Soumitra Mohan told IANS.
At least six children were among the casualties.
The overburdened British-era wooden suspension bridge on Little Rangeet river in Bijonbari - headquarters of the Darjeeling Pulbazar development block - gave way Saturday evening as over 200 people stood on it to listen to speeches of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leaders like Bimal Gurung in the area, 30 km from Dargeeling town.
The bridge fell along with those on it 70 feet down into a gorge and the river.
Around 50-60 people have been rescued by the locals, army, fire brigade personnel and the police, said GJM general secretary Roshan Giri.
Rescue operations, which were halted Saturday night, were resumed Sunday morning.
“A cultural programme was being held on one side of the bridge while a meeting was being held on the other. Too many people were standing on it when it collapsed and they fell into the river below,” Giri said.
The injured have been admitted in Bijonbari and Darjeeling hospitals.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is slated to reach the spot in the afternoon in a flight from Kolkata.
“The government will do everything it can,” the chief minister said in Kolkata, expressing shock at the tragedy.
She said the government would bear the cost of the treatment of the injured and pay compensation to the next of kin of the dead.
Banerjee said she would cancel her programmes to inaugurate community Kali Pujas to be with the people of the hills.
A defence ministry spokesperson said 40 troops of the army’s Mountain Brigade have been rushed to the site with medical and nursing officials after a request from the district magistrate.
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