‘My car began sinking’: Survivor describes the moment Kolkata bridge collapsed
As soon as the Majerhat bridge collapsed in Kolkata, locals rushed to the rescue of those who came down with it. With no equipment at hand, they used bare hands to extricate those stuck.
Eyewitnesses to the collapse of the Majerhat Bridge on Tuesday said they were not likely to forget the disaster any time soon. Even those who escaped unhurt were still reeling from shock.
“I was at the wheel of my cab and was going from Behala towards Ekbalpore. As my car was crossing the middle of the bridge that I had crossed thousands of times, the ground below me began to shake. My car began sinking downwards,” said Madan Jha, 38, who was at the wheel of a cab.
“Bridge toot giya. Aap utar jayiye (The bridge has collapsed. Please get down), I told the passenger,” said Jha, who felt a blunt pain in his right foot.
The door would not open easily because of the rubble but Jha eventually managed to get out. So did his passenger.
“Within a few seconds I was completely disoriented. Then I realised I was indeed alive,” said Sishir Chakraborty, the 61-year-old passenger in Jha’s cab.
There were several who missed escaped the disaster narrowly. Rokeya bibi was accompanying her husband to a hospital for dialysis at a local hospital. “We passed the bridge only a few minutes ago,” she said.
“I went to the market. The structure collapsed a few minutes before I returned. Two of those who were trapped are alive. I know Gautam Mondal and another one are trapped below the rubble. A total of 65 of us used to stay in a temporary shelter under the bridge. I shudder to think what could have happened when we were sleeping under the structure,” said a metro rail worker.
Subhashree Banerjee, a homemaker who lives close to the bridge at New Alipore, said, “My husband crossed the bridge in his car just about a couple of minutes in his car as he has been doing for the past several years. Though he was completely safe, he was stupefied by the disaster.”
As soon as the bridge collapsed, locals rushed to the rescue of those who came down with it. With no equipment at hand, they used bare hands to extricate those stuck. The traffic police on duty also weighed in. “The real challenge was to extract those who were under the debris. I joined efforts with several others to pull out a person,” said Sabir Ahmed, a local.
“There were many who needed help. I could participate in the efforts to rescue five persons. Perhaps I should have done more,” he added.
Jha , whose car suffered only minor dents, also stepped up to help. He had a bottle of water inside his cab which he quickly brought out for those hurt. Some wanted to drink it, while some wanted it to be poured on their heads.
A minibus that also came down miraculously did not suffer major damage and most of the passengers reported only minor injuries.
Jha said he will go to offer puja on Wednesday.