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September 2018
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National News
Over-bridge collapses in Mumbai suburb; 5 hurt, major disaster averted
 
Mumbai, Jul 3 (PTI) An over-bridge at a railway station in Mumbai's Andheri suburb collapsed on Tuesday during heavy rains, disrupting train services, injuring five people and putting the spotlight once again on the creaky infrastructure of this metropolis

A major disaster was also averted as a packed train that was to pass Andheri station stopped a few metres from the collapsed bridge, thanks to motor man Chandrashekhar B Sawant's quick action in stopping the train when he saw a portion of the bridge collapsing

"I immediately applied emergency brakes and the train stopped," Sawant told reporters. "The collapse was accompanied by a big thud sound of debris falling", he said

The Brihamumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said five people were injured, including two seriously

A part of the 47-year-old Gokhale over-bridge came down at 7.30 a.m. IST, before the commuter rush hour had started, which was the likely reason the casualty figure remained low. Normally, thousands of commuters use the bridge, which connects Andheri East and Andheri West stations

The falling bridge entangled with overhead wires which fell on the tracks below, halting local train services on the Western line, officials said, causing immense inconvenience to Mumbaikars for whom local trains are a lifeline. Some long distance trains were also cancelled or rescheduled

Only nine months ago, in September, a foot over-bridge linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban railway stations had collapsed, leading to a stampede in which 22 people were killed and several injured

"Incessant rains apparently caused cracks in the (bridge), resulting in its collapse. Thankfully, no train was passing on the track under the bridge at that time," said a civic official

Mumbai's famous tiffin carriers, the 'Dabbawalas', who use local trains to ferry hundreds of thousands of lunch boxes from homes, were also unable to deliver on Tuesday as pounding rain lashed the city, clogging several roads with shin-high water

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal visited the accident site and ordered an inquiry by the Commissioner of Rail Safety whose report would have to be submitted within 15 days

Expressing regret over the accident, he said it was "very unfortunate" and "most unexpected"

He said around 700 employees of the railways, helped by some experts from Delhi and Lucknow, were working on the restoration work and the train services will be resumed completely by Tuesday (July 3) night

The minister said the last safety audit of the Gokhale bridge had been conducted on November 12 last year and nothing wrong was found

Goyal said that during the next six months, a joint safety audit will be conducted by the Railways, the BMC and the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, at the 445 road over-bridges, foot over-bridges and bridges over pipelines in Mumbai as part of efforts to improve safety for the commuters

Western Railways spokesman Ravinder Bhakar told news agency PTI that overhead equipment above the tracks was damaged and a team of engineers is working to restore services

Another senior official said the structural audit of all foot and road over-bridges, including the one which collapsed, is underway

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has asked the Mumbai police commissioner to ensure smooth traffic movement and asked the BMC to increase its bus service

Mumbai NCP chief Sachin Ahir termed it as "another failure" of authorities and criticised the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena for not doing enough for residents of the mega city

However, BJP leaders said it was time to help the stranded commuters rather than indulging in 'blame game'

Guardian minister of suburban Mumbai Vinod Tawde said the railways should conduct a thorough probe into the incident. Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam said the Railways minister should ensure hassle-free and fearless journey for travellers

"The regular occurrence of accidents has shaken the confidence of rail passengers," he said in a video message

The Western Railway has made arrangements for the refund of tickets of passengers travelling by long distance trains which were cancelled because of the incident

Western Railways commuters were permitted to travel on alternative routes of the Central Railway

Private airlines Vistara and Jet Airways said they will accommodate passengers running late due to traffic congestion because of the incident.


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