India motorway collapse kills 16 after concrete slab falls onto crowded road

Samuel Osborne

At least 16 people have been killed after a highway overpass being built in India collapsed.

A huge concrete slab slammed down onto the crowded road below, crushing at least four cars, a motorcycle and a bus.

More people were feared trapped after the collapse in the city of Varanasi.

Rescue workers prepare to remove a beam as vehicles are seen trapped under the rubble after a part of an under construction flyover collapsed in Varanasi, India (REUTERS/Stringer)

The slab appeared to be at least 15 metres long and two metres wide.

"There was sudden rumble and within seconds we saw" the vehicles crushed, local resident Ramesh Kumar Singh told the Associated Press.

"It took at least a minute for the people around to realise what exactly had happened."

Most of the people killed were travelling in vehicles, senior police officer PV Ramasastry said.

By nightfall, rescuers had pulled three people alive from the rubble, according to a statement from the National Disaster Response Force.

The state's top official ordered a probe into the collapse.

He also announced a 500,000 rupee (£5,400) payment to families of those who died.

On Twitter, the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, said he was "extremely saddened" by the loss of lives and had asked officials in the state to provide all possible support to those affected.

India has a long history of construction accidents caused by poor materials and inadequately trained workers.