Many Killed and Injured as Karachi’s Shershah Bridge Collapses; More Still Trapped

Posted on September 1, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Disasters, Economy & Development
47 Comments
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Adil Najam

The barely 3-month old SherShah by-pass bridge collapsed suddenly today killing at least 5, injuring many, and reports suggest that many many more are still trapped under the collapsed structure which is so huge that it cannot be easily lifted to save them. The bridge had cost nearly Rs. 3.5 billion to build and had just recently been inaugurated. According to The News:


A bridge of Northern Bypass at Paracha Chowk in Shershah area of the metropolis, which was opened by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on 6 August 2007, collapsed here Saturday, killing at least four people, injuring several others while trapping an unknown number of people under the debris. “Four people have died and over a dozen were wounded in the collapse,” southern port city police official Khalid Hameed said, adding that several vehicles were trapped in the debris.

However, a person trapped in the debris of the bridge was miraculously rescued. According to Geo News correspondent two dead bodies and three wounded persons have been brought to Civil Hospital Karachi, while four injured have been transferred to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and one inured was shifted to Murhsid hospital. Rescuers were trying to clear the wreckage to retrieve injured and survivors amid fears the death toll could rise, they said. Witnesses said a portion of the bridge known as Northern Bypass fell with a huge bang while traffic was on it.

“It created such a huge sound that we thought it was an earthquake,” Zahid Khan, a resident of the area said. Karachi City Nazim Mustapha Kamal said the authorities were investigating the cause of the blast. The bridge was built by the state-run National Highway Authority. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz phoned Governor Sindh Dr. Ishrat-ul-Ebad to seek details of Karachi bridge collapse, which has left at least four people dead, several injured and an unknown number of people have been trapped in the debris. The Prime Minister directed Ishrat to take no stone unturned in the relief and rescue activities to help the victims. The injured people should be provided with proper medical care, he directed. Shaukat Aziz also directed PM Inspection Committee to probe into the incident to ascertain the cause.

Chief minister Sindh Dr. Ghulam Arbab Rahim has expressed deep concern over the tragic incident of the collapse of a part of the northern by-pass bridge in Shershah and said that the persons involved cannot be pardoned. He said that an impartial investigation of the incident would be made.

With us having discussed Karachi’s infrastructure problems often (here, here and here), including the recent Economist ranking of Karachi as a difficult-to-live-in city, this bad news only compounds a bad situation. That the bridge was such a recent addition and was opened with such fanfare also raises concerns about quality and safety of the many other development projects going on in Karachi and all over Pakistan.

Our first priority right now must be the safety of those still trapped under the malba. As soon as that is done, we must all start looking at these infrastructure issues more seriously than we have till now.

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47 responses to “Many Killed and Injured as Karachi’s Shershah Bridge Collapses; More Still Trapped”

  1. my name is iqbal from lahore pakistan and i think that it is design falt otherwise bridge cont be demege. because i m draftsman in bridge directorate punjab highway dept. lahore

  2. Anwar says:

    The span of bridge seems to be structurally sound even after it fell down. It appeared to have sheared from a joint at the front end followed by collapse of the rest of the section. Interestingly enough, readers will notice absence of any support underneath the joint that failed…
    Compare that to any overpass in the US and one will see that underneath every joint there is ample columnar support.
    Someone misread the drawings…

  3. Abu Taimoor says:

    I personally think that a committee headed by a reputable retired Justice should investigate into this. There are strong apprehensions of involvement of Khakis (NLC and NHA both headed by serving or retired Khakis) therefore, I am quite doubtful that a committee headed by a NED professor will be able to give an independent report because the influential circles belonging to the “sacred cow” will not let this committee work freely and professionally and I am quite sure that the learned professor would not like to be an OSD like Dr. Anwar ul Haq of PIMS Islamabad. We are an unfortunate nation ruled by a few who believe in “hush up policies” and are good at putting things under the carpet in the name of “National Security”.

  4. MQ says:

    It turns out that the National Highway Authority (NHA), a civilian institution headed by an army general, was responsible for building the bridge. NHA had awarded the building contract to National Logistic Cell (NLC), a military outfit, for building the bridge on a single tender basis, which means there were no other competitors for the job. NLC’s officially sanctioned and stated mission, incidentally, does not include any construction jobs. NLC subcontracted the job to other contractors. (It will be interesting to see who the these contractors were.)

    Former senator Farhatullah Babar has written a revealing article in The News today. You may like to read it here: http://thenews.jang.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=708 94

  5. reality check says:

    local govt is not to be blamed since it does not yields full power over affairs of karachi, as far as some one claiming UMMAT as a NEWSPAPER is a MISNOMER of which there is no example!!

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