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Five detained in Indian overpass collapse, 24 dead

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KOLKATA, India, April 1 (UPI) — Police launched an investigation Friday into a construction company building an overpass that collapsed, killing at least 24 and injuring dozens.

Local officials said they are putting together an “expert committee” to look into Indian-based IVRCL construction company and uncover any potential problems during construction on the Vivekananda overpass, which began in 2009. Some reports said five IVRCL officials have been detained in the investigation and the company’s headquarters have been sealed. The company said the overpass collapse was “God’s act.”

So far, 90 people have been rescued from under the rubble, but dozens more are feared trapped after about 330 feet of the overpass collapsed on Thursday.

“We cannot predict how many people are still under wreckage,” Major General Anurag Gupta, from the National Disaster Management, said. “We can’t tell since it’s a bridge and not a building.”

Emergency workers and frantic family members have descended on Girlish Park to clear the rubble. Some are carrying out huge pieces of debris and others are using fire hoses to spray water to clear large chunks of concrete. Several nearby apartment buildings have been evacuated due to fears the collapsed portion of elevated highway might shift.

Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal state, said relatives of those killed in the collapse would receive compensation of about $7,500. Those who have been critically injured would receive about $3,000 each.

The overpass project has been plagued by delays. The original completion date was five years ago. Kolkata, formerly called Calcutta, as well as other cities in India, have been the scene of bridge collapses in the past, many due to lax government standards.

In 2014, three workers were killed when a section of an overpass under construction collapsed in the Surat. In 2009, 30 workers were killed when scaffolding on a bridge under construction collapsed.

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