A portion of a flyover being built by a state-run corporation collapsed on a busy road in Varanasi today, killing at least 18 people as it crushed a mini bus, cars and two-wheelers.
Officials feared that the toll may rise.
Hours later, people were still believed buried under the rubble of the flyover with several cranes being deployed to lift the concrete girder that crashed around 4 pm on the road that leads to the Varanasi-Allahabad highway.
Reports said at least 20 people were injured in the accident barely 100 metres from the Varanasi Cantonment railway station.
Local residents said cyclists and pedestrians also use the stretch of the road, narrowed because of the construction activity.
The Uttar Pradesh State Bridge Corporation Ltd is building the 2,261-metre bridge at a cost of Rs 129 crore, officials said. The span which fell today was laid barely three months ago, they added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who represents Varanasi in the Lok Sabha, expressed grief over the deaths while the opposition targeted the UP government over the tragedy in the "top-priority constituency of the country".
The tragedy is similar to the flyover collapse in Kolkata two years back when over 25 people were killed.
"Extremely saddened by the loss of lives due to the collapse of an under-construction flyover in Varanasi. I pray that the injured recover soon. Spoke to officials and asked them to ensure all possible support to those affected," Modi tweeted.
"This is the reality of development in the top-priority constituency of the country. The ministers of the state used to visit this district for regular inspections. Is this incident an accident or result of corruption? This should be told to the people of Varanasi by the state government," the SP chief said.
Yadav appealed to his party workers to cooperate with the administration in relief and rescue operations. The accident should be probed "honestly", he demanded.
The state government probe will be headed by Agriculture Production
Commissioner Raj Pratap Singh and will include Irrigation Department head Bhupendra Singh and Jal Nigam MD Rajesh Mittal, Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)