Two killed in Delhi Metro viaduct collapse (Roundup)

October 19th, 2008 - 8:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 19 (IANS) At least two people, including a Blueline bus driver, were killed and 30 injured when part of an under-construction Delhi Metro viaduct in east Delhi collapsed early Sunday. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said the “unusual accident” could have claimed many more lives had it taken place on a weekday or in the daytime.

The accident occurred at around 7 a.m. in Laxmi Nagar locality of east Delhi when a launcher machine joining the prefabricated, heavy concrete structures between two pillars “collapsed”, leading to a part of the overhead line crashing down, DMRC spokesman Anuj Dayal said.

A Blueline bus plying on route number 39 was crushed, while a crane of construction company AFCONS, a truck and a few cars were trapped under the debris.

The bus driver, Surender Pal Singh, 28, and a worker of AFCONS (in charge of construction in the segment) Chhote Lal, 25, were killed. “They had to be extricated with difficulty from under the debris,” Dayal said.

Nearly 30 people were injured and admitted to hospital. The condition of three is said to be serious.

“Prima facie it appears the accident may have been caused due to some mechanical failure in the lining of the launcher. It is being examined,” Dayal added.

A high-level technical inquiry has been ordered by Delhi Metro, which will include a structural expert from the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, an international structural consultant and the chief engineer (design) of DMRC.

Eight cranes, 10 trailers and 40 cutting machines are involved in the restoration work and traffic is expected to be restored on both side of the road from Preet Vihar to ITO by Monday morning. DMRC has also set up a help line - 011- 22191736 - for providing information to the public.

“The DMRC has sealed the site office of the contractor AFCONS, and seized all their inspection reports and other documents connected with this incident,” Dayal said. All construction activities underway in Phase-II, which is over 125 km, will be reviewed.

After visiting the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital where many injured have been admitted, Dikshit said: “Thank god it was a Sunday morning, otherwise it might have caused more problems.”

“It’s an unusual accident and everything will come out after the enquiry. Delhi Metro has a very good record but we will find out who is responsible for the mishap.”

Sanjiv Gehlote, who helped in rescuing people said: “I heard a huge noise and rushed to the spot. I helped rush at least a dozen people to nearby hospitals.”

Manohar, an eyewitness, told IANS: “For a moment, I thought it was a bomb blast. It is a heavy traffic area and if the accident had taken place on a weekday, at least 20-30 people would have got killed.”

DMRC has announced a compensation of Rs.500,000 each for the family of those killed and Rs.50,000 for the injured.

Meanwhile, several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders rushed to the spot. They blamed both the Delhi government and Delhi Metro for the accident. “Are we not rushing too much to meet the deadline?” asked BJP leader Vijay Goel.

Another leader V.K. Malhotra went a step ahead to demand a judicial enquiry into the matter.

The second phase is slated to be completed ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi.

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