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Five killed in Delhi Metro bridge collapse

One section of a concrete bridge being built for the Indian capital’s metro rail system collapsed Sunday, crushing to death five workers and injuring 13, Delhi Metro officials said.

Two of those injured are in serious condition, said Anuj Dayal, the spokesman for the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation that is expanding the city’s 6-year-old metro rail system.

He said three workers died at the accident site and two at the hospital.

Delhi Metro chief E Sreedharan said he was quitting his post to take “moral responsibility” for the accident.

Sreedharan announced his decision at a crowded press conference on Sunday afternoon, soon after his visit to the site of the collapse.

“As the head of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, I take moral responsibility for the incident…So I have decided to resign and I have put in papers and I have sent it to Lt Governor Tejinder Khanna and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit,” he said.

The accident happened early Sunday as workers lifted heavy concrete slabs for the bridge, police spokesman Mohammed Iqlaq said.

Television footage and photographs showed one long concrete section, which would have carried the tracks, lying at an angle with one end on the ground and the other on top of a supporting pillar. The massive section had crushed metal beams beneath it.

Those killed and injured were laborers working on the bridge, Iqlaq said. He said the cause of the accident was not yet known.

Rescue crews were still working to see if any others are trapped under the rubble, Iqlaq said.

The efficient metro rail system is the third mass urban transport system in the country and is the pride of New Delhi, a sprawling city of 14 million people and more than 3.2 million vehicles that navigate daily through chaotic traffic.

In October last year, two people were killed and at least 11 injured in a similar accident. Then, mechanical failure in a launching gantry was blamed for the collapse. The gantry was in use lifting segments for the 11th precast segmental span on a new line being built to connect the city to sports grounds being prepared for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The metro currently has three lines covering 75km, and authorities are rushing to complete several extensions totaling about 100km before the October 2010 Commonwealth Games.

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