Bridge in India snaps into place just two days before opening

Part of a newly constructed bridge in the eastern Indian state of Bihar collapsed before it could be officially opened to the public.

A piece of the bridge, built over the Burhi Gandak River in the state’s Begusarai district, broke and fell into the water on Sunday morning. Officials said a crack was spotted in the 206m-long bridge, following which vehicles were banned from crossing it.

There were no casualties or injuries in the collapse as there was no one on deck at the time of the incident.

Construction of the bridge began in 2016 and it was constructed at a cost of 134 million rupees (around £1.3 million) under a state government scheme.

Photos and videos on social media showed two large pieces of the bridge floating on the river water.

It is estimated that the bridge, intended to open access between two municipalities, would have allowed nearly 30,000 people easy access to the national road. Local residents will now have to take a boat ride or walk a distance of more than 20 km through the next district.

The local government ordered an investigation into the collapse following an inspection by a team of engineers from the state Department of Rural Works.

Begusarai District Magistrate Roshan Kushwaha said the bridge was built by a local construction company and was often used by pedestrians. “The circulation of small vehicles was also allowed,” he said.

But he was also quoted as saying by the Indian Express newspaper that “the administration’s worst fears were realized on Sunday when the portion of the bridge crashed into the river”.

“Fortunately, no one suffered any physical injuries when the huge piece fell into the river,” he added.

The incident comes two months after at least 135 people died in a bridge collapse in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat – in one of the worst India’s public safety tragedies.

The 223m long and 1.25m wide suspension bridge in the Morbi of Gujarat collapsed just days after it reopened to the public after months of repairs.

Bihar, however, is no stranger to bridge collapses, with routine incidents highlighting the poor quality of construction work.

In November, a day laborer died and another was injured after a bridge under construction collapsed in the state’s Nalanda district.

In another incident in July, at least 10 workers were injured after a bridge collapsed under construction in Katihar district.

Part of a 9.1 km long bridge built over eight years has fallen in Gopalganj district less than a month after it was inaugurated by the state’s chief minister, Nitish Kumar, in July 2020.

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