| The trucks lying at the cave-in site. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Calcutta, Feb 9: A portion of a crowded approach road to a bridge in Bally collapsed late last night, and two trucks came tumbling down with it.
However, no one was hurt.
The road, which leads to the CCR Bridge ' its runs over railway tracks ' on National Highway 6 at Bally in Howrah, was constructed recently and opened to traffic less than a month ago.
The drivers of the two trucks, which were speeding down from opposite ends, had a miraculous escape as they jumped out in time.
As soon as other truck drivers realised that a portion of the road was slowly caving in, they panicked and scrambled to head back.
Attracted by the commotion around 11 pm, residents of the area rushed to the spot. They checked if anyone was trapped inside the trucks and then called police.
The portion that crashed measures nearly 20 metres by 15 metres.
A police officer posted at the spot said it was sheer luck that no one was injured. 'At that time of the day, this road is clogged with traffic. Yesterday, at least five to six heavy trucks were on the part of the road that collapsed. The drivers of the two trucks that went down could escape unhurt and other drivers could clear their vehicles away as the collapse took place slowly,' he said.
RBM-PATI (JV), a Malaysia-based company that built the road under contract with the National Highway Authorities of India (NHAI), washed its hands of the incident. 'We used reinforced earth wall to make that approach road. It is used all over India to make such roads. There was nothing wrong with it,' said project manager Zainal Fitri.
'We can't say right at this moment how the collapse took place. An investigation will be carried out to ascertain the cause of the incident.'
Policemen went to the spot and camped there through the day. 'The matter will be investigated. We can give you more details once our investigation is complete,' said Kalyan Banerjee, the additional superintendent of police (town), Howrah.
Sugrib Ray, the driver of WB-15/9941, one of the trucks that went down, shook like a leaf as he recounted the incident.
'I was taking my truck to Burdwan to load sand. I suddenly felt it going down slowly. It felt as if an earthquake was taking place. I jumped out of the truck, which turned sideways as it tumbled down. Another truck (UP-78/AT 0059) suffered the same fate,' he said.
An official of RBM-PATI said it was uncertain when the road would be repaired. 'It will be decided by the NHAI. We can't say this.'
A police officer from the Howrah traffic department said the traffic was being diverted through another road. 'But it can't be a long-term solution. That approach road will have to be repaired, and repaired fast.'
The police had a tough time controlling the huge crowd that had gathered at the spot. 'Massive cracks have developed on the road due to yesterday's collapse. Other parts of the road may go down anytime. We have to keep the people away to avoid any major mishap,' said an officer.