Bridge Collapse Is Latest Tragedy on India’s Roads – India Real Time – WSJ

The collapse of a bridge in the western Indian state of Maharashtra this week that left 14 people dead and 18 others missing wasn’t the first road tragedy to hit the area.In 2013, a bus veered off a 80 year-old bridge on the Jagbudi river, which flows parallel to the Savitri about 70 kilometers (43 miles) to the south, killing 37 of the 52 people on board.

That accident happened when a bus flew off the bridge and flipped in midair before landing on its roof 30 feet below.

The Wall Street Journal took a deep look into the tragedy.

Such incidents are alarmingly frequent on India’s roads.

India has been spending more money to improve its bridges, ports and airports, but the Savitri accident is yet another example of how the country’s depleted infrastructure is under increasing strain due to the rising demands of a fast-developing economy.

Its ageing road network, the world’s second-largest after the U.S. but largely made of dirt tracks, is particularly challenging. India’s roads are the most dangerous in the world: In 2015, the country accounted for almost one in 10 road casualties world-wide, according to the World Health Organization.

While India reported 137,000 deaths due to road crashes in 2013, the WHO estimated the figure was much higher. Those deaths cause an approximate 3% loss in economic output, it said.

Two buses and a number of cars plunged into the Savitri river in the early hours of Wednesday when the bridge in Mahad, built before India gained independence from Britain in 1947, crumbled into the waters below amid heavy monsoon rains.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered a judicial probe into the accident and said government technicians will carry out a safety audit of old bridges in the state.

The bodies of 14 people were recovered from the waters of the Savitri by Friday morning, and 18 more are missing, National Disaster Response Force Commandant Anupam Srivastava said.

Source: Bridge Collapse Is Latest Tragedy on India’s Roads – India Real Time – WSJ

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