A railway bridge being built across a ravine in India’s northeastern Mizoram state has collapsed, killing at least 26 labourers working on the project, officials said, with many others reported missing.
Video footage on X, formerly known as Twitter, posted by Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga on Wednesday showed a metal frame that had toppled off towering columns into a wooded valley below.
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The accident happened at Sairang, a town about 20km (12 miles) from Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram which lies in the far east of India, bordering Myanmar.
State Transport Minister T J Lalnuntluanga, who was at the site, said 18 bodies have been recovered while eight other bodies have been located and are being pulled out of the debris by rescuers.
People living in a village near the construction site rushed to rescue injured workers and took them to hospital, police said.
Rescuers from the government-run National Disaster Response Force also hurried to the scene to search for survivors.
The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) said in a statement on X that the mishap occurred during work on the Bhairbi-Sairang New Line Railway Project.
The NRF said on its website the project will connect Mizoram to the rest of the country, boosting “tourism and socio-economic development”.
A “high level enquiry committee” had been set up to investigate, the NFR said.
The government will pay about 200,000 Indian rupees ($2,400) to the next of kin of those killed, reports said.
“Rescue operations are underway and all possible assistance is being given to those affected,” the office of Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.
People had “come out in large numbers to help with rescue”, Zoramthanga said, adding he was “deeply saddened and affected by this tragedy”.
India’s extensive railway system is used by many millions of people every day.
The government has launched high-speed trains as part of plans to modernise the network but critics say it has not focused enough on safety and upgrading ageing infrastructure.
At least 288 people were killed in June in India’s worst rail crash in more than two decades. It was blamed on signal failure.
Bridge collapses and other deadly accidents on large infrastructure construction sites are also common in India.
In October last year, a colonial-era suspension bridge collapsed in Morbi in the western state of Gujarat, killing 135.
In June, a suspension bridge being built in the country’s poorest state of Bihar collapsed, killing one person.