Around 400 people living in 52 houses in Kolkata’s Bowbazaar area have been rendered homeless for last one week after excavation work for the Metro hit an aquifer and led to flooding and cave-ins, NDTV reported on Thursday. The evacuees have been put up in nearby hotels paid for by Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation.

The excavation work for the 520-metre underwater stretch of the metro has, however, been completed. The affected areas, Durga Pituri and Shakrapara lanes, have been cordoned off, with entire houses having crumbled.

Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Limited Managing Director Manas Sarkar apologised for the incident. “It is a disaster,” Sarkar had said on Monday following a meeting with government officials. “We never anticipated this. It is unprecedented. It has never happened in India and only in rare cases elsewhere in the world. I am sorry. We are trying to get things under control.”

Sarkar said that following the disaster, the project was likely to be delayed by at least a year and the cost will overrun considerably.

“What we can say, it was unexpected,” 40-year-old Abhishek, who is one of the 400 evacuees, told NDTV. “We were on the road in 10 minutes, from a flat to a road in 10 minutes.”

The police escorted residents to their devastated homes and gave them just 10 minutes to recover their possessions, NDTV reported.

“On Sunday they suddenly said leave,” Abhishek’s wife Manisha said. “We could not take anything, no medicines, no prescriptions and no Aadhaar card. We have come to try and recover it.”

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited the damaged areas on Sunday.

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