A large number of train passengers had a miraculous escape late on Saturday night after two railway employees alerted their higher-ups and station masters at Mandapam and Pamban of a barge crash at the Pamban rail bridge.
The new barge, built in Kolkata by a private shipyard, and a tug that was towing it had been anchored north of the Pamban bridge to get clearance certificate from the Railways and port authorities to pass through the navigational route. The barge was to be handed over to the Indian Navy at Karwar. However, the Pamban port authority had failed to give clearance for the two vessels to pass through the navigational route.
Meanwhile, the tug ran aground when it was pinned between two rocks. Moreover, the anchor of the barge disconnected on Saturday night and the vessel drifted towards the railway bridge. The rear end of the barge rammed the 121st pillar of the historical bridge damaging it. Railway employees Victor and Naina Mohamed heard the noise due to the crash at 1.40 am and rushed to the spot. They were shocked on witnessing the damage to the pillar and the railway track. Immediately, they informed the Mandapam and Pamban stations.
Following this, the mid-bridge portion was lifted slightly to prevent the entry of trains.