About 25 labourers die in Kashmir bridge collapse

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Baramulla, Nov 16 (UNI) At least 25 labourers, mostly outsiders were killed, when a bridge across river Jhelum collapsed today, official sources said.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident while the divisional administration has announced ex-gratia relief.

A UNI correspondent who visited the site of accident this afternoon, three km short of Uri, was told that five bodies have so far been recovered from the river.

Two of the bodies belonging to residents of Jammu, one Jharkhand Jogeshwar, local Ghulam Qadir and Mohammad Din.

However, there was apprehension among the relatives and officials that bodies must have entered Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) as the flow of the water was very fast.

Eyewitnesses told UNI that 17 outside and seven local labourers were working on the birdge when a portion, made of steel, collapsed.

Some civilians were also walking on the birdge when the incident took place, they said.

Official sources said the 130 meters bridge constructed by a private contractor for NHPC was to open for vehicular traffic next week.

This correspondent saw 80 meters RCC portion of the bridge still standing without suffering any damage. However, another 50 meters of the bridge made of steel had collapsed.

Official sources said the steel portion of the bridge collapsed due to some techinical fault.

The bridge had assumed significance as it was connecting Bandi and 12 other villages with Uri besides there was a Gurdwara on other side of the river.

Sources said the construction of the bridge was completed last week and was ready to open for public after proper testing.

Authorities put sand bags on the bridge yesterday to test its strength before allowing it for public use, they said adding when the labourers were removing the sand bags it collapsed.

There was no chance of any survival as the height of the bridge was more than 150 feet, sources said.

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