Ship collides into century-old rail bridge near Tamil Nadu coast

Last Updated: Sun, Jan 13, 2013 13:23 hrs

Rameswaram: The Pamban Rail Bridge on the Palk Strait, that connects Rameswaram on Pamban Island of Tamil Nadu to mainland India for almost a century, has been hit by a naval barge that went adrift close to it, here on Sunday.

According to initial reports, the collision did not cause major damage to the rail bridge that is trying to capture the UNESCO's attention for acquiring the heritage status of the same, media reports said.

Railway PRO Mr Venugopal, based in Madurai told NDTV: "The damage seems minor and we are looking into it; hopefully it shouldn't take long to set it right."

Due to the bad weather conditions, the ship, that was towing a naval barge from Kolkata to a port near Mumbai, at first went aground hitting rocks on the Jan 10.

Despite being a still-functioning double-leaf bascule (movable) bridge section, that can be raised to let ships pass under the bridge, it seems that the disaster was inevitable as the vessel remained stuck just 50 metres away from the rail bridge, reports said.

The barge, that was afloat around 100 metres away, has hit the Pamban Rail Bridge on Sunday morning, reports said.

Despite officials confirming the damage to be minor, the effects of collision on the key mechanical part of the rail bridge is not yet clear.

Following the accident, the Southern Railways has suspended rail services to and from Rameswaram, as trains bound for the temple town would have go on this rail bridge.

All trains for Rameswaram would stop at Mandapam Railway station, reports said.

Four fishing trawlers have been deployed by the local port authorities to rescue the ship and the barge.

The architectural wonder in the form of the 6,776 ft railway bridge was opened for traffic in 1914 and is a major tourist destination itself.

The 2.3 km long Pamban Bridge is a cantilever bridge and was India's first sea bridge. It is the second longest sea bridge in India now with the Bandra-Worli Sea Link opening in recent times.

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