At least 19 people were killed and over 12 injured after being crushed under two concrete beams which fell off 40-foot-high pillars of an under-construction flyover in Varanasi. The mammoth slabs came crashing on crawling traffic on a busy service lane between Cantonment railway station and Lahartara rail over.
Nine vehicles, including a bus, two SUVs, two cars, auto and two-wheelers lay in a twisted, mangled heap, triggering panic and chaos in the peak evening hours.National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) comprising 350 personnel, Army Medical Corps and police were swiftly pressed into rescue operations and it took more than four hours to extricate bodies after 200-tonne capacity cranes were pressed to partially lift the beams. Rescue operations were delayed as the heavy-duty cranes had to be brought in from NHAI campus, 15 km away.
Before the NDRF arrived, it was local slum dwellers who swung into action after hearing the thud and cries of passengers writhing in pain on the busy street. Many eye-witnesses claimed rescue operations began after an hour and many of those trapped under rubble died. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath, deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya airdashed to Varanasi to take stock of the situation.