At least 18 persons were killed when a section of an under-construction flyover collapsed in Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an official said on Tuesday.Two dozen persons were injured in the tragedy near the Cantonment railway station here. The flyover was being constructed by the Uttar Pradesh State Bridge Corporation.Many cars were buried under the collapsed structure, district officials said, adding that the death toll could go up once the debris was cleared.Three persons were pulled alive out of the crashed structure. Two persons admitted at a medical facility were said to be in a critical condition, an official spokesman told IANS.A crane belonging to the National Highways Authority of India pulled out all vehicles that were crushed under the collapsed flyover portion.Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath would reach Varanasi late in the night to take stock of the situation, the official said.Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar said that seven NDRF teams comprising 325 rescuers have been deployed at the spot to carry out rescue."Sixteen bodies have been recovered so far. Three persons have been pulled out alive from under the debris," he told IANS earlier, adding that three-four people could still be trapped.
The Uttar Pradesh government constituted a three-member committee of Agriculture Production Commissioner Raj Pratap Singh, Irrigation Department Chief Engineer Bhupendra Sharma and Jal Nigam Managing Director Rajesh Mittal to probe the collapse and submit a report within 48 hours.The team had been asked to immediately leave for Varanasi and hold investigations.Varanasi District Magistrate Yogeshwar Ram Mishra said their prime focus for now was on rescue and relief.Work on the flyover between Chauka Ghat bus stand and Lahartara had been initiated during the Samajwadi Party rule.The Chief Minister mourned the loss of lives and directed officials to ensure prompt rescue and relief, a state government spokesman said.Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya has already left for the spot.A compensation of Rs 5 lakh each has been announced for the families of the dead and Rs 2 lakh for critically injured.