A portion of a flyover being built collapsed on a busy road in Varanasi, 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.
Local residents said cyclists and pedestrians also use the stretch of the road about 100 metres from the Varanasi Cantonment railway station.
Uttar Pradesh Relief Commissioner Sanjay Kumar said 18 bodies were pulled out. Five National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, with about 250 personnel, rushed to the accident site.Rescue workers used metal cutters to free people caught in their vehicles.
Chief Project Manager H C Tiwari and three others were suspended late Tuesday night.
Authorities said no work was going on when the concrete slab crashed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the deaths.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced a three-member committee to probe into the accident and give its report within 48 hours.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Governor Ram Naik and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh condoled the deaths.
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.