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City flyover turns dealth trap

by laxman
September 10th, 2007

ffAt least 15 persons were crushed to death and scores injured under eight precast girders of the under construction Punjagutta flyover near Himalaya book depot at Panjagutta on Sunday evening.

Even by midnight, district authorities refused to commit on the death toll, but workers involved in the rescue operations pulled out four bodies by 11.45 pm and were able to locate five others in the rubble.

Central Industrial Security force’s collapse structural search and rescue team joined the operations late in the night. District authorities said rescue operations could extend into the wee hours of Momday. The officials said public can call up two helpline numbers 9440815856 and 9440815858 to know about the injured. According to eye witnesses, the scaffolding at the upcoming flyover, being built by EPC contractor Gammon India Ltd, gave way at around 7.30pm when the city was withessing heavy downpour, bringing the structure crashing on moving traffic, killing instantly occupants in several cars and autos. Though the incident happened at 7.30 pm, civic authorities were caught napping. The traffic went haywire due to poor management and relief and rescue efforts were rudderless for over two hours.

Traffic snarls extended for kilometers on either side of the busy Punjagutta junction towards Banjara Hills side and Somajiguda side. The traffic on the Khairatabad-Kukatpally
stretch was chock-a-block too. In fact, the injured, who were extricated from the debris, were caught in the traffic for over two hours. The injured were shifted to Nims and Apollo hospitals. Instead of moving the injured to Nims, which is barely a kilometers away, they were ferried to farflung corporate hospitals.
According to another eye witness,an RTC bus left the place a few seconds before the structure
came down crashing. However, a car carrying three software professionals was not so lucky. The professionals came under one of the girders, but the driver escaped with minor injuries. GHMC officals had calimed the 1.7 km -along Punjagutta flyover, being constructed at a cost of Rs 28.29 crore, has several unique features as it follows the prestressed cement concrete method. Though civic official had claimed the flyover would have features like anti-terroor and quake-proof measures, the scaffoding and the structure could not withstand the 5.7 cm rainfall on sunday evening.
The branchedout-type flyover has been embroiled in contoversy since say day one. The corporation made sevaral changes to the alignment and design and got stuck in other problems. The GHMC made changes in the position of piers No 29 and 30 at Nagarjuna circlea few months ago and later they changed the alignment towards Nagarjuna circle.

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