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Bridge collapse kills 5 in India

ONE section of a bridge being built for New Dehli's metro rail system collapsed yesterday, crushing to death five workers and injuring 13 in a major setback to the project that Indian officials hope to complete before the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

New Delhi's metro rail project is already operating three lines and is working around the clock to build several extensions. The metro is the pride of the city, where commuters were long forced to rely on buses, three-wheel motorized rickshaws or their own motorcycles.

The head of the project tendered his resignation yesterday to take responsibility for the collapse.

"This is a very, very serious accident," said Delhi Metro Rail Corporation chief E. Sreedharan, an official known for his integrity and dedication.

He said he has submitted his resignation to New Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to take "moral responsibility" for the accident ? a rare blemish in the largely successful project.

The accident occurred on a particularly tricky section, where a 4-kilometer metal cantilever was being raised to attach to a long section of concrete girders, all of which tumbled down in a V-shape pile.

The area was cordoned off and cranes worked to clear the rubble to reopen the road underneath. A high-powered committee comprising engineers and experts was appointed to find the cause of the accident and submit its report with 10 days, Sreedharan said.

He said two workers died on site and three in hospital. Two of the 13 hospitalized workers are in serious condition.

Sreedharan said the project would be delayed for at least three months and that the accident caused damage worth 60 million rupees (US$1.25 million).

The metro's first three lines opened in 2002 and cover a total of 75 kilometers.

Authorities are rushing to complete several extensions totaling about 100 kilometers.


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