At least 17 workers were killed and three injured after a crane collapsed on them at a bridge construction site in India’s Maharashtra state on Tuesday.
The workers were engaged in the construction of the third phase of the six-lane, 701km Samruddhi Express Highway in Shahpur, about 70km from Mumbai.
They were operating a girder launching machine – a specialised crane used to move large steel beams or girders – when it collapsed on them early on Tuesday morning.
The injured were rushed to a hospital, and at least five workers are believed to be trapped inside the collapsed structure.
“The height of the accident spot is nearly 35 metres. Seventeen people have died in the accident. We were able to find three people alive, they were injured but are out of danger. They are undergoing treatment at government-run hospitals,” Ashok Shingare, Thane District Collector, who oversaw the search and rescue operations, told The National.
Mr Shingare said that the rescue operation was complicated due to rainfall.
“The rescue operation was difficult as it started at night and it was raining. We are almost at the end of the operation. The debris will be cleared in next four hours. We are hoping to find the remaining people alive,” he said.
It is believed 20-25 labourers, all migrant workers, as well as engineers, were working at the site at the time of the accident.
Police and emergency workers are currently working to rescue those trapped.
“We got information about the incident at around 1.30am and our first team started the rescue operation around 5.30am. Our search and rescue operation is still under way,” National Disaster Response Force assistant commander Sarang Kurve said.
“Sniffer dogs have also been used for rescue,” he added.
Television footage showed the collapsed crane on the ground as emergency workers scrambled to rescue those trapped.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered condolences to the families of the victims and announced compensation of 200,000 rupees ($2,400).
“Pained by the tragic mishap in Shahapur, Maharashtra. My deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are injured,” Mr Modi said.
“The NDRF and local administration are working at the site of the mishap and all possible measures are being taken to ensure proper assistance to those affected.”
The under-construction motorway connects Maharashtra's Mumbai and Nagpur districts and passes through ten districts of the state.
The first phase of the motorway connecting Nagpur was inaugurated by Mr Modi in December 2022.
The third phase was expected to be completed by December this year.