Five members of a family were killed as a 150-tonne girder of BRT-3 Elevated Expressway fell on their car, smashing it to the ground, at Uttara's Jasimuddin road yesterday
An employee of Aarong's Uttara branch told journalists, requesting not to be named, that around 3:45pm a crane, not strong enough to lift such weights, was being used to lift up the girder to place it on a vehicle.
"They did not even block the road in front of Paradise tower at Uttara Sector-3. All of a sudden the crane overwhelmed under the weight of the girder tilted towards the west side of the road and fell on the car," the Aarong employee added.
Another eyewitness of the incident said the car was demolished within a blink of an eye and blood, mixed with the fuel from the car's tank, were oozing out from the car.
Two passengers – a newly married couple Hridoy, 26 and Riya Moni, 21 – were rescued, but the rest of the passengers – Jharna, 28, her two children Zakaria, 2, and Jannat, 6, and Hridoy's father Rubel, 50, and his mother-in-law Fahima, 45, died on the spot.
Hridoy and Riya got married just the day before yesterday, said the groom's cousin Rakib Hossain.
"They were heading to the bride's house in Ashulia after attending a post-wedding family event at Dakkhinkhan's Kawla area and Hridoy's father was driving," he said.
"We must recognise this to a murder, not an accident like we always do in similar incidents in the past," Mohammad Fazle Reza Sumon, president of Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP) told The Business Standard.
"It was the negligence of the contractor [Jianshu Provincial Transportation and Group Co Ltd China] and the implementing authorities. There had been no proper safety measures since the beginning of the project," he said, expressing frustration over the incident.
When the BRT authorities were relocating the girder, they set up no roadblocks or security perimeter and as a result vehicles were moving on the road as usual.
On top of it, according to fire service officials, the BRT authorities did not respond to the rescuers' initial request to arrange a crane for removing the girder.
It took three and a half hours to bring out the bodies from the smashed vehicle and in the absence of a proper crane, rescuers could not relocate the girder and were forced to cut the sedan to take the bodies out.
The bride, Riya Moni and the groom Hridoy were able to get out of the car immediately after the girder fell on the car, said Mohammad Saiful Malik, assistant commissioner (Traffic, Uttara).
The couple is now stable and undergoing treatment at an Uttara hospital.
"They are stable now, but considering what they endured, what they witnessed in broad daylight, what they have lost, there are no words good enough for condolence. Hridoy and Riya Moni have been losing consciousness repeatedly after they learned the fate of their family members," cousin Rakib Hossain said.
Earlier, on 15 July, a security guard was killed in Gazipur when a "launching girder" of this BRT project fell on the road. A worker and another pedestrian were also injured in the accident.
Earlier, on the morning of 14 March 2021, at least four people, including two foreign nationals, were injured when the girder of this same project broke. Firemen at the time said the work of lifting the girder and installing it on the flyover was going on when it slipped.
Earlier on 30 May, A pedestrian – Mahbubur Talukder, 49, was killed after the bricks from the metro rail construction site in Mirpur-11 fell and hit him on the head. Five other people were also injured in the accident.
The Bahaddarhat Flyover collapse occurred on 24 November 2012 when steel girders collapsed in the suburb of Bahaddarhat in Chattogram, killing at least thirteen people. It was 7:30 pm in the evening, when suddenly three girders fell down from a flyover (overpass) during construction.
Rakib Hossain, Hridoy's cousin, said it's a shame that the authorities could not get a crane to remove the girder from on top of the car in three and a half hours.
"Even 30 minutes after the accident we could see one of the children inside the car was alive," he added.
"Rescue workers had to manually dismantle the car with a chainsaw and take the bodies out," he lashed out.
Yet the Dhaka BRT Managing Director Safiqul Islam claimed there was no lack of safety.
"The accident occurred due to mechanical failure. A girder was being lifted on a truck to relocate it to another location. But due to a sudden mechanical failure, the crane veered towards the road and overturned, unable to carry the load. That is when the girder fell on the car," he told The Business Standard.
He also said the BRT is obligated to pay compensation for the accident.
"We will negotiate and fix the amount," he added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expressed her condolences to the bereaved family members and prayed for the departed souls in the accident, read a press release from the Prime Minister's Office.
The project to create separate lanes for specialised buses across an area of about 20km from Gazipur to the airport is being implemented by three government agencies – the Roads and Highways Department (RHD), the Bangladesh Bridge Authority and the Local Government Engineering Department. Three project directors are in charge of coordinating the work of the three agencies.
The project work that started towards the end of 2012 as part of the plan was supposed to finish by 2016. However, not even one third has been finished in 10 years. Meanwhile, both the project completion tenure and cost have doubled.
Due to slow progress, the revised cost of the project has been estimated at Tk4,268.32 crore after a 109% increase from the initial estimation of Tk2039.8489 crore. Three donor agencies, including the ADB, are providing Tk2,842.51 crore in loans for the project.