At least four people died and 15 were injured when the concrete girders of the under-construction flyover at Bahaddarhat in Chittagong collapsed on a kitchen market yesterday.
Over 5,000 locals staged a violent protest there as it was the second girder collapse this year. The mob went on a rampage and torched several vehicles and vandalised a police outpost.
Three bodies were pulled out of the debris and one person died in the hospital.
The identities of the deceased could not be known immediately.
Zahirul Islam, a sub-inspector, said at least 15 people were trapped under the girders and 13 of them had been rescued and sent to Chittagong Medical College Hospital.
Police said Md Mamun, 20, Md Russell, 20, Omar Faruk, 20, Sohel, 35, Hafiful Miah, 16, Shahabuddin, 20, Najma Begum, 21, and Ripan Dhar, 23, were admitted to Chittagong Medical College Hospital. They said five other injured people could not be identified.
Sources said there were more people trapped under the girders and rescue operations were going on as this report was being filed at 1:30am today. They feared the death toll might rise.
Eyewitnesses said at around 8:00pm three concrete girders of the flyover fell on some people, mostly vegetable vendors of the kitchen market.
Rescue operations had to be suspended as locals staged a violent protest soon after the incident. They blocked fire engines from reaching the spot and vandalised two of the vehicles, said Ruhul Amin, deputy director of Fire Service and Civil Defence.
The demonstrators also torched 10 motorbikes, six owned by policemen, and makeshift camps of the flyover construction workers.
The agitators ransacked Bahaddarhat Police Outpost and got involved in running battles with the police.
Eyewitnesses claimed that the mob also attacked the vehicle of Deputy Commissioner Abdul Mannan at 9:00pm.
Police charged truncheons and fired around 30 teargas canisters to disperse the mob, said sources.
Abdul Mannan, deputy commissioner of Chittagong, said he had asked for the army's help with cranes and two army cranes had gone to the spot.
However, sources said army personnel with the cranes reached the spot but could not begin rescue operations immediately as they were busy trying to get the mob under control.
Meanwhile, a wall of the Bahaddarhat mosque collapsed on the mob, injuring at least 10 people. The injured were rushed to Chittagong Medical College Hospital.
On June 29, a concrete girder of the flyover fell on the road below, slightly injuring a rickshaw-puller. Luckily, the accident happened on a Friday during Juma prayer time when the road was almost empty.
The Chittagong Development Authority is constructing the flyover at a cost of Tk 106 crore. The construction work of the four-lane flyover began in December 2010.
Primary and Mass Education Minister Afsarul Amin at the spot told journalists that the accident might have happened owing to a technical fault but a proper investigation would reveal everything.
Chittagong City Corporation Mayor M Monjur Alam also visited the spot.
Former Chittagong City Corporation mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury at the spot demanded punishment for everyone, including Chittagong Development Authority Chairman Abdus Salam, as they were responsible for such negligence.
Members of Border Guard Bangladesh, Ansar, Rab, armoured police and the army got the situation under control at around 10:00pm and resumed rescue operations.