VARANASI: A portion of an under-construction flyover near the railway station here collapsed today killing at least 18 persons while more were feared trapped under the debris, officials said.
Eighteen bodies have been recovered from the Varanasi flyover collapse site, UP Relief Commissioner Sanjay Kumar told PTI in Lucknow.
"It is feared that several people are buried under the rubble," an official said, adding rescue teams were at spot to rescue those trapped.
Some vehicles, including a bus, were crushed in the collapse, they said. At least three persons had been rescued, a National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) official said.
The Uttar Pradesh Bridge Construction Corporation was constructing the 2261-metre-long bridge at a cost of Rs 129 crore, officials said. The span which fell today was laid barely three months ago, they added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who represents Varanasi in the Lok Sabha, and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath expressed grief over the deaths. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya rushed to the spot, an official spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, the opposition targeted the state government over the tragedy in the "top-priority constituency of the country".
Chief Minister Adityanath set up a three-member committee to probe the flyover collapse. Adityanath also announced a Rs five lakh ex-gratia to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs two lakh to the seriously injured, an official said.
The chief minister also directed the district administration and PWD officials to take all necessary steps for relief and rescue operations.
"Extremely saddened by the loss of lives due to the collapse of an under-construction flyover in Varanasi. I pray that the injured recover soon. Spoke to officials and asked them to ensure all possible support to those affected," Modi tweeted.
In another tweet, the prime minister said he had spoken to Adityanath. "The UP Government is monitoring the situation very closely and is working on the ground to assist the affected," he said.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Governor Ram Naik too condoled the deaths.
Opposition Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav attacked the state government over the incident.
"This is the reality of development in the top-priority constituency of the country. The ministers of the state used to visit this district for regular inspections. Is this incident an accident or result of corruption? This should be told to the people of Varanasi by the state government," the SP chief said.
Yadav appealed to his party workers to cooperate with the administration in relief and rescue. The incident should be probed "honestly", he demanded.