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September 4, 2018 2:01 pm EST

Kolkata bridge was dubbed a ‘death trap’ prior to collapse in India

WATCH ABOVE: A busy bridge linking several neighbourhoods in Kolkata, India collapsed Tuesday over a roadway and trapped several vehicles underneath it.

Police in Kolkata reportedly flagged the poor conditions on Majerhat bridge months before it collapsed on Tuesday, trapping dozens of people during rush hour in the northeast Indian city.

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A 30-metre span of the highway bridge fell on a busy roadway at approximately 4:30 p.m. local time on Tuesday, trapping several vehicles underneath. A bus and five other vehicles fell with the section of concrete, the Associated Press reported.

READ MORE: Bridge collapse kills at least 1, injures several in Kolkata, India

There was no official count of injuries or deaths, although rescue crews were seen pulling several individuals from the rubble.

The approximately 40-year-old bridge is a main route into southern Kolkata, with thousands of cars crossing over it every day. The span runs over a railway line, the Majerhat Railway Station and a busy roadway.

The cause of the collapse has not been determined.

READ MORE: Deadliest bridge disasters over the past decade — and what caused them

“Police are investigating the matter,” Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of the state of West Bengal, told reporters on Tuesday in Darjeeling.

“A detailed investigation will be done but right now our focus is rescue and relief efforts.”

West Bengal’s governor, Keshari Nath Tripathi, said the state’s Public Works Department (PWD) and the railway administration were responsible for maintaining the bridge. “There was a report on a pit here for quite some time,” he told reporters on Tuesday, adding that he wasn’t sure if the PWD noted it.

Tripathi said the bridge “deserved better maintenance.”

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WATCH BELOW: Security camera footage shows bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy

Kolkata’s traffic police reportedly told local officials on several occasions this year that the bridge needed work.

A police official warned in July that the bridge was in bad shape ahead of monsoon season, according to a report.

“Monsoon has turned the busy Majerhat bridge, which is used by thousands of vehicles … into a death trap,” the unnamed top official told the Times of India, in a story published July 1.

“Commuters’ lives are at risk as small pools have formed on the bridge,” the official said.

Records show the PWD put out a tender for surface repairs on the bridge in April.

People gather while National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Indian army personnel work at the site of a collapsed bridge in Kolkata, Eastern India, on Sept. 4, 2018.

EPA/PIYAL ADHIKARY

Workers began fixing potholes on the bridge in July, but PWD officials reportedly said it was not possible to do a full repair because of monsoon season.

“By the time the intensity of the rain falls, [the Hindu festival] Pujas will be approaching and there will be a shopping frenzy,” a PWD official told The Times of India on July 26.

“This is one stretch of [Diamond Harbour] Road that witnesses maximum traffic, and therefore we cannot shut it down. We have to wait for the festival to end before starting a complete overhaul.”

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The PWD previously posted tenders for light fixture repairs around the bridge in 2016, and “emergent repair and restoration” in 2015.

The bridge collapse is the second deadly incident in Kolkata’s recent history. The steel Vivekananda bridge collapsed on March 31, 2016, killing 26 people and injuring dozens more. The bridge was under construction and not in use at the time.

WATCH BELOW: CCTV captures 2016 bridge collapse in India

Dozens of people were killed when a major highway bridge collapsed in Genoa, Italy, last month. An engineer had flagged the bridge as a “failure” years before the incident occurred.

READ MORE: Engineer flagged ‘failure’ of Italian bridge years before it collapsed

West Bengal officials say they will conduct a full investigation into the Majerhat bridge collapse.

— With files from the Associated Press

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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