1:16 pm - Monday May 27, 2024

Chennai metro tunnelling causes cave-in, road gulps car

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Acrater more than 10 feet across swallowed a car after a combination of metro rail tunnelling and layers of loose soil apparently caused a sudden cave-in near Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital on Poonamallee High Road at 2.15pm on Friday afternoon.

As the road subsided without warning by at least two metres, leading to rerouting of vehicles and general mayhem on the arterial road that lasted for five hours, Chennai Metro Rail Ltd officials who rushed to the spot confirmed that tunnelling for the transit system was in progress right below the spot where the road gave way.

The occupants of the compact sedan, a businessman and his driver, escaped unhurt, with onlookers pulling them to safety well before the CMRL contractor in charge of the site had workmen use two cranes to lift the vehicle out of the hole. The contractor said the cave-in was most likely due to loose soil crumbling due to the tunnelling work.

The driver of the car, Khaleel Rahman, 32, of Vyasarpadi, said he was driving his employer from Kilpauk to his office in Mannadi when, while crossing the busy stretch between Chennai Central and Madras Medical College, the earth sank beneath the car. “There was nothing to warn us before the collapse,” Rahman told TOI. “We were lucky. I was driving slowly because a bus stop was nearby and people were standing on the road.”

The car’s occupants were in shock when bystanders rescued them, a witness said. The cranes took 45 minutes to lift the car out of the gaping hole but the traffic snarls continued till 8pm, when workers completed repairs with grouting and iron sheets and police allowed motorists to use the stretch. Officials said a boring machine was digging a tunnel for the metro rail station beneath Madras High Court and Chennai Central.

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