KOLKATA: Indian police said Saturday that they are investigating possible murder charges against 10 construction company employees who have been either arrested or detained in connection with the collapse of an unfinished overpass in Kolkata that killed at least 26 people.
Rescuers continued clearing rubble from the scene of Thursday’s accident. Sixty-nine people have been pulled out alive, but authorities said they doubted more survivors would be found.
Three arrested employees of IVRCL Infrastructure Co., which was contracted to build the overpass, were to appear Saturday in court, where arguments for formal charges were to be heard, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.
Seven other employees have been detained, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.
The employees are being questioned regarding possible charges of murder and culpable homicide, which are punishable by death or life imprisonment, and criminal breach of trust, which carries a prison sentence of up to seven years, police said.
Rescue workers pulled out two more bodies from under the rubble on Saturday, raising the death toll to 26, said police inspector Debashish Chakraborty. The bodies were pinned under concrete slabs and were recovered by emergency workers at the crash site.
Police believe there may be more bodies under the debris.
While most of the injured have been discharged from the hospital, 18 were still undergoing treatment, Chakraborty said.
IVRCL Infrastructure, based in the southern city of Hyderabad, was contracted in 2007 to build the overpass, a project that was expected to take two years. But construction was far behind schedule.
The overpass had spanned nearly the width of the street and was designed to ease traffic through Kolkata’s densely crowded Bara Bazaar neighborhood. The structure fell within hours of concrete being poured into a framework of steel girders on Thursday.
“We completed nearly 70 percent of the construction work without any mishap,” IVRCL official K.P Rao said Thursday. He was not among those detained on Friday. “We have to go into the details to find out whether the collapse was due to any technical or quality issue.”
Two West Bengal state engineers overseeing the construction of the overpass were suspended from jobs pending an inquiry into the disaster, a state government statement said.