At least 18 people were killed and three others were injured when an under-construction railroad bridge collapsed in India Aug. 23, officials said. Local news reports indicated the number of victims may be even higher.

The collapse of the structure over the Kurung River near Sairang in the state of Mizoram occurred at about 9:30 a.m. local time, according to a press release from state officials. Photos from the scene appear to show a large piece of a truss that had fallen from bridge piers. The cause was not immediately clear. 

Northeast Frontier Railway, the owner of the planned rail line, said in a statement that a “high-level enquiry committee” would investigate the collapse. 

India_collapse_ENRweb.jpgAt least 18 workers were killed and three others injured in the collapse. Photo courtesy of Government of Mizoram


The bridge is being built as part of NFR’s 32-mile Bairabi-Sairang rail line, according to the railroad operator. The company says the line would boost socio-economic development and tourism for the remote region. As of 2021, state officials said construction of the line was scheduled to complete in December 2023. 

Earlier this year, the railroad marked completion of a 341-ft-tall pier, the tallest on the line, for the same bridge. NFR’s leadership touted the pier design, which featured openings in the pile cap for water to pass through. 

According to engineering firm BPC Consultant Pvt. Ltd., which says on its website that it has provided geotechnical services for the Bairabi-Sairang project, the forested hilly terrain and deep gorges along the route necessitate construction of 204 bridges and 24 tunnels. 

Bairabi-Sairang_line_ENR.jpgThe Bairabi-Sarang plan includes construction of a 32-mile rail line. Map courtesy of Northeast Frontier Railway


NFR warned in its latest construction update that the bridge work site faced poor accessibility issues during monsoons, in addition to a lack of materials and skilled labor in the area. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office said the government would pay victims’ families 200,000 rupees, the equivalent of about $2,400. 

“Pained by the bridge mishap in Mizoram,” Modi said in a statement. “Condolences to those who have lost their loved ones. May the injured recover soon.”