Kolkata: Rescue workers and sniffer dogs continued to search for people trapped under the rubble of the collapsed Majerhat bridge in Kolkata on Wednesday, as the city police imposed restrictions on the movement of goods vehicles to and from the nearby Kolkata port.

The police said trucks carrying containers will be allowed to enter and leave the port for only seven hours between 11pm and 6am, curtailed from the 17 hours a day they are allowed now. The restriction will disrupt despatches and can potentially lead to containers piling up at the port, said officials at the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT). Such congestion typically disrupts both inbound and outbound traffic at the port.

A section of the Majerhat bridge which connects southwest Kolkata and the port collapsed on Tuesday, killing at least two people and injuring 25. Two of the injured are in a critical state, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday, while confirming that a dead body was recovered from the site on Wednesday. Two people are missing and could be trapped under rubble, she added.

Some 1,200-1,300 containers move from the port every day, according to Vineet Kumar, chairman of KoPT. The restriction on movement of goods vehicles is expected to be a temporary measure to deal with traffic congestion in the immediate aftermath of the accident, he said, adding that the restrictions are likely to be eased as the situation improves.

Restarting vehicular traffic on Majerhat bridge will take several months, according to officials in the public works department, who are under fire for alleged lapses in maintenance. This effectively means that restrictions on the movement of goods vehicles in the port area are unlikely to be eased any time soon.

Cargo movement at the port peaks ahead of the approaching festive season. The restrictions imposed on Wednesday could impact despatches to Nepal, fears consul general in Kolkata, Eaknarayan Aryal. At least 80 containers are despatched to Nepal from the Kolkata port every day, according to Aryal.

“Our national festival is set to begin within days and imports headed for Nepal are set to soon increase," he said. “I am very concerned about this accident, but unless the traffic restrictions on movement of goods vehicles are eased, despatches to Nepal are to be affected," he added.

Meanwhile, two public interest litigations were filed in the Calcutta high court on Wednesday seeking clarification from the state government over maintenance of bridges in Kolkata.

The police, too, have launched an investigation to determine who was responsible for the poor maintenance of the bridge.

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