Aizawl, Aug 24: Various disaster response personnel continued their search operation for the second day on Thursday to recover more bodies in Mizoram’s Sairang area, where an under-construction railway bridge collapsed on Wednesday killing at least 23 people and injuring three, officials said.
Aizawl District administration and Police officials on Thursday said that 23 workers were killed and 22 bodies recovered so far while two more workers and an engineer were injured and now under medical treatment in Aizawl hospital.
Officials of Mizoram Relief and Disaster Management Department on Wednesday said that at least 26 workers were killed and two others injured after the railway bridge collapsed near the mountainous Sairang area, about 21 km from Aizawl.
A Mizoram government statement said that the Quick Response Team (QRT) along with National and State Disaster Response Force and Young Mizo Association volunteers continued their search operations.
Officials said that most of the victims are from West Bengal's Malda district.
The Railway engineers said that the accident was due to the collapse of a gantry, which was being placed over the 104-metre piers of the under-construction bridge. The steel structure had suddenly toppled off towering columns into the forested valley below.
The railway bridge under the 51.38-km railway project was under construction over the Kurung river to connect Bairabi (near southern Assam) to Sairang.
A high-level committee has been constituted by the Railway Ministry to probe the incident, railway officials said.
After the postmortem, the bodies are being embalmed and would be handed over to the Railway Department for transportation to respective native villages, the statement said.
The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has been implementing the 51.38-km railway project.
State Transport Minister T.J. Lalnuntluanga said that the railway bridge construction was undertaken in 2018 by the Kolkata based ABCI Infrastructures Pvt. and scheduled to be completed by December this year.
NFR General Manager (Construction) Sunil Kumar Jha, along with senior officials, from the NFR headquarters in Maligaon (Guwahati) still camping in Mizoram.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is now in Johannesburg for the BRICS Summit, on Wednesday announced an ex-gratia of Rs two lakh from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) to the next of kin of each deceased and Rs 50,000 for those injured.
The Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh for the deceased, Rs two lakh towards grievous and Rs 50,000 for minor injuries.
Sairang railway station is set to be the last railhead before reaching Mizoram's capital Aizawl.
Scheduled to be completed by December this year, the project would connect mountainous Aizawl with the national railway network.
There are 32 tunnels (12.67 km total length), 16 cut and cover tunnels (2.58 km total length) along the 51.38-km-long Bairabi to Sairang stretch of the broad gauge railway line, which traverses through Thingdawl and Tlangnuam areas under Kolasib and Aizawl districts respectively.
There are 55 major bridges, of which six are tall bridges having a height of more than 70 metre (the tallest being 104 metre), 87 minor bridges, five road overbridges and eight road underbridges. (IANS)