132 people died when a bridge collapsed in India

132 people died when a bridge collapsed in India


At least 132 people died in India when a colonial-era footbridge overloaded with religious revelers collapsed into the river below, police said Monday.

Authorities said nearly 500 people were celebrating on and around the nearly 150-year-old suspension bridge in Morbi when support cables snapped after dark on Sunday.

The structure in western Gujarat state collapsed into the river, throwing dozens of people into the water while others desperately clung to the rubble and called for help.

“I saw the bridge fall before my eyes,” said a witness who had worked all night to save people, without giving his name.

“It was traumatic when a woman showed me a photo of her daughter and asked if I had saved her. I couldn’t tell her her daughter had died.”

Another witness named Supran told local media the bridge was “crammed.”

“The cables snapped and the bridge collapsed in a split second. People fell on top of each other and into the river,” he said.

Ranjanbhai Patel, another Morbi resident, told local media about the difficulties he and others faced trying to help the people on land.

“We pulled ashore people who could swim. Since most of the people had fallen into the river, we couldn’t save them,” he said.

Senior police official Ashok Kumar Yadav told AFP on Monday morning the death toll now stands at 132. Sources say most of the victims were women and children.

Around 15 others were treated in hospital.

The bridge over the Machchhu River, a popular tourist spot, had reopened just days earlier after months of repairs.

News reports showed footage of people climbing the twisted remains of the bridge or attempting to swim to safety in the dark.

Morbi Police Chief P. Dekavadiya previously told AFP by phone that more than 130 people had been rescued.

– ‘No certificate’ –

The suspension bridge, 233 meters (764 feet) long and 1.5 meters wide, was inaugurated by British colonial authorities in 1880 and was built using materials shipped from England, reports say.

Broadcaster NDTV reported that it reopened on Wednesday after seven months of repairs, despite lacking a safety certificate, and video footage from Saturday showed it swaying wildly.

The district police have launched an investigation into the contractor, Yadav said. The state has deployed a five-person team to investigate the tragedy.

Authorities quickly launched a rescue operation after the collapse, using boats and divers to search for missing people.

Dozens of soldiers and sailors from the Indian Army and Navy were also called to the rescue operation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was touring his home state of Gujarat at the time, announced compensation for those killed and injured in the accident.

The Gujarat government describes the bridge, about 200 kilometers west of the capital Ahmedabad, on its website as “an engineering marvel”.

Accidents due to old and poorly maintained infrastructure, including bridges, are commonplace in India.

In 2016, at least 26 people died when an overpass collapsed onto a busy street in the eastern city of Kolkata.

In 2011, at least 32 people were killed when a bridge full of festival-goers collapsed near the mountain town of Darjeeling in northeast India.

Less than a week later, around 30 people were killed when a footbridge collapsed over a river in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.

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