Search continues for three still missing following bridge collapse on July 11

Accident: Search teams have recovered the bodies of four of the seven expatriate labourers washed away by the Ammochhu last week.

The expatriate labourers were washed away after the bridge there were working on in Pultar, Samtse, collapsed on July 11.

Dorokha Dungpa Karma Jurmi said two bodies were recovered in Dremji in Dorokha and Khengpagaon in Tading yesterday.

The other two bodies were recovered on July 16 in two different places:   Hashimara in India and the other in Tading, officials said.

The search team comprises of members of the local communities, dungkhag officials, and police personnel, said Karma Jurmi.

“The body retrieved from Hashimara has been taken care by the Indian police,” Karma Jurmi said, adding that the body has been handed over to the family of the deceased.

The bodies of the deceased will be brought to Samtse for a post mortem, following which the bodies will be handed over.

Meanwhile, Dungpa Karma Jurmi said that it has been a difficult experience. Incessant rain and geographical conditions have made the search difficult.

He added that members of the search team are briefed and guided on ensuring their own safety given the difficult conditions being faced.

Nine expatriate labourers were washed away after the cable suspender of the suspension bailey bridge they were working on reportedly snapped.

The labourers were working on the last stage of the construction, which involves connecting the two sides of the bridge and only a 10-foot span was left to complete, when the incident struck.

One of the labourers was found dead and another was referred to a hospital in Siliguri after he was found caught between the metal bars of the collapsed bridge and severely injured.

The condition of the labourer referred to Siliguri has improved, sources said.

Meanwhile, the cause of the collapse is yet to be confirmed. However, the company constructing the bridge is fully responsible for any compensation required under their agreement for the lives lost.

The 400-foot (122 metre) suspension bailey bridge is the longest in the country.

M/s Rama Engineering from Kolkotta was carrying out the construction at a budget of Nu 2.82 million. With the completing of towers, launching works to connect the bridge from both the sides were ongoing when the accident occurred.

The construction initially had started in 2012 and was scheduled to be completed in 2013. However, numerous problems plagued its progress.

There were three components in this bridge construction such as sub-structures and anchorage blocks, procurement of bailey suspension bridge parts, and launching. The construction of sub-structures and anchorage blocks was awarded to a Bhutanese company.

With delays, the work was completed in March 2015 due to the difficult  climatic conditions. The second part of the construction also did not go smoothly as several materials were stolen, which prolonged completion.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing