Police in India detained five officials Friday from a company building an overpass that collapsed onto a crowded Kolkata neighborhood a day earlier, killing at least 24 people and injuring more than 80.
Rescuers on Friday were clearing the crumbled concrete and twisted metal rods. They had pulled 67 people alive, but don’t believe there are any more survivors under the rubble.
"There is no possibility of finding any person alive," said S.S. Guleria, deputy inspector general of the India's National Disaster Response Force. Engineers are being consulted about a part of the bridge still hanging over the disaster area, after which workers will "slowly start dismantling this particular section to avoid any collateral damage to houses around it."
Guleria added that it is “being ensured that there are no more dead bodies under the debris,” Reuters reported.
The five employees who were detained worked for the Hyderabad-based IVRCL Infrastructure Co., which was contracted in 2007 to build the overpass. Police also sealed its Kolkata office.
On Thursday, the company described the collapse as an “act of God,” according to Sky News.
The officials are being questioned for possible culpable homicide, punishable with life imprisonment, and criminal breach of trust, which carries a prison sentence of up to seven years, police said.
"We did not use any inferior quality material and we will cooperate with the investigators," A.G.K. Murthy , the company's director of operations, told reporters Thursday. "We are in a state of shock."
The partially constructed overpass had spanned nearly the width of the street and was designed to ease traffic through the densely crowded Bara Bazaar neighborhood in the capital of the east Indian state of West Bengal. Within hours of concrete being poured into a framework of steel girders on Thursday, about 300 feet of the overpass collapsed.
"I heard an explosion, a solid one," said resident Rabindra Kumar Gupta, who had been home eating lunch. "My apartment shook. The whole building shook. When I looked outside, there was a lot of smoke."
Smashed yellow taxis, a crushed truck, destroyed rickshaws and the bloody legs of trapped people jutted from the fallen girders and concrete.
The construction company was far behind schedule for the overpass.
"We completed nearly 70 percent of the construction work without any mishap," IVRCL official K.P Rao said Thursday. He was not among those detained on Friday. "We have to go into the details to find out whether the collapse was due to any technical or quality issue."
Police said 39 of the more than 80 people taken to hospitals were still being treated Friday morning.
As workers in yellow hard-hats operated huge cranes, bulldozers and other equipment to clear the rubble and pry apart the concrete slabs Friday morning, crowds of people waited anxiously to see if neighbors and friends had survived. The intersection had been a place where street vendors and service workers regularly plied their trades.
"There used to be a tailor who sat here on this corner. We wonder about him. A cigarettes and tobacco vendor — we knew everyone who used to stay around this crossing," resident Pankaj Jhunjhunwala said.
Rescuers also used dogs and special cameras to find people who were trapped, he said.
The operation was a "very, very challenging task," said O.P. Singh, chief of the National Disaster Response Force.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in Washington at the time of the collapse, said he was "shocked and saddened," according to a message on his Twitter account.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.