Bus crossed bridge a minute before collapse

Bus crossed bridge a minute before collapse

The Sharada Travels bus plying between Kateel and BC Road with more than 50 passengers on board, including students, office-goers and others, had not even plied one kilometre from the ill-fated Moolarapatna bridge, when it collapsed with a thud on Tuesday.

Hardly two minutes before the bus crossed the bridge, the Seagull Travels bus, plying between Moolarapatna and Adyarpadav, carrying over 40 passengers, had crossed the bridge.

“Had the bridge collapsed one or two minutes before 6.15 pm, at least 50 people in the bus would have lost their life,” said Vishwanath, whose house is hardly 50 metres from the bridge.

“We heard a huge sound, but never thought the bridge would have collapsed,” he told DH. While two piers collapsed on Monday evening, another collapsed on Tuesday morning. Many residents this correspondent spoke to blamed uncontrolled sand mining over the last few years as one of the reasons for its collapse.

Vishwanath’s daughter-in-law Deepthi had just arrived home and was parking her scooter when she heard the sound. She ran towards the bridge and Mohammed, a resident who was riding towards the bridge, stopped to enquire why Deepthi was running.

“Just because I stopped to enquire why Deepthi was running, I survived. Otherwise, I would have fallen into the river,” Mohammed said.

With the collapse of the bridge, hundreds of schoolchildren residing on other side of the bridge (at Arala, Sornad, Yermalapadav, Kolathamajal) will be affected as there are nearly a dozen educational institutions on the other side of the bridge (Kuppepadav, Yedapadav, Mijar, Kaikamba and Bajpe). Schools in Muthoor had declared holiday on Tuesday.

The hanging bridge constructed by Coastal Development Authority two years ago, which serves as a link between Badaga Belloor and Mutthoor, is a few hundred metres away from the ill-fated bridge and that is the only alternative way to reach either side of the bridge. However, one can cross the bridge only by walking.
The Moolarapatna bridge, constructed in 1981-82, was a boon for residents of Badaga Belloor, Kuriyala, Arala, Sornad and Bantwal to reach Kuppe Padav, Yedapadav, Kaikamba, Bajpe and Kateel and vice versa.

Prior to the construction of bridge, boat service by ‘Ismail Beary’ was the only mode of transport for the people to cross River Phalguni.

The police, who have been posted on either side of the bridge, said hundreds of citizens from far and wide thronged the spot throughout the day to see the collapsed bridge and take selfies.

Half of the 200-metre-long bridge comes under Bajpe police station limits and another half under Bantwal police station limits. Personnel from the two stations are guarding their side of the bridge, respectively.