At 1.30 am on Wednesday, the areas near the site of the Majherhat bridge were bustling with activity. Curious bystanders and local residents took selfies and strolled along the site of the collapse to get a glimpse of the rescue work.
NDRF member Rajiv Kumar, who is part of the relief efforts, said, “Looks like it will take at least another day to complete the rescue operation. We are now trying to break the concrete slab into smaller pieces and remove them from the spot. The vehicles which fell with the portion of the bridge have already been removed with the help of a hydraulic crane.”
About six cranes, three generator vans and two ambulances are kept on standby as police personnel along with NDRF members conduct rescue operations.
A hutment of labourers working on the Joka-BBD Bag Metro line, adjacent to the bridge, now doubles up as a resting place for rescue workers. As a team of rescue workers take a break in the dead of the night to have their dinner, police personnel haul up a carton of biscuits and water bottles to pass around for the rest of them.
The bridge, which till last afternoon was a site for heavy traffic, now lays bare signs of old age and lack of maintenance. Iron bars protrude from the slabs and vegetation has sprouted along both sides of the bridge, developing cracks below the railings. The surface of the bridge is riddled with potholes.
“No one cared to undertake maintenance work on this bridge. These cracks on walls and pillars are widening day by day. The containers which cross from this lane under the bridge often brushes the ceiling, forcing chunks to fall frequently. This was a disaster waiting to happen,” said local resident Shakil Mohammad, who was accompanying his friends to see the rescue work.