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134 people died as the India bridge collapsed

Aina Idriena Osman

Aina Idriena Osman

UUM News Reporter

NEW DELHI: As police began a criminal case into one of the bloodiest incidents in the nation in the previous ten years, the death toll from a suspension bridge collapsed in India increased to 134, with many of the casualties being children.

In the moments before the bridge collapsed, young men could be seen taking pictures and while others trying to sway the bridge before falling off into the river below as the cables holding it together gave way.

The colonial-era footbridge over the Manhchhu River in the center of Morbi town was crowded with tourists taking part in holiday celebrations when it collapsed on Sunday evening, plunging people about 10m into the river.

Less than a week after the bridge’s reopening following restorations, 400 people had purchased tickets to cross the bridge to celebrate Deepavali and Chhath Puja festival.

About 35 victims were younger than 14, according to a list of the deceased seen by Reuters. About 170 people had been rescued by the morning.

“Because I had participated in the rescue operation, I had trouble sleeping the entire night. I brought a large number of kids to the hospital,” said one anonymous rescuer.

Senior government official N. K. Muchhar said the death toll had gone up 134.

Another official on the site warned that rescue work was being hampered by the river’s murky waters and that there might be individuals trapped under the wrecked remains of the bridge.

Police have filed a criminal complaint against the unidentified individuals in charge of the bridge’s renovations, upkeep, and management. A five-person panel has been assembled by the government to look into the catastrophe.

According to Sandeepsinh Zala, the chief officer of the Morbi municipality, the bridge has been maintained for 15 years by the Gujarat-based Oreva group, a manufacturer of electrical products.

Rescue personnel conducting search operations after a bridge across the Machchhu River collapsed in Morbi, Gujarat, early Tuesday. Rajesh Ambaliya/Associated Press

Zala remarked, “They didn’t tell us anything about reopening the bridge. We have not provided them with any fitness certificates.”

A lawmaker from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, Jayrajsinh Jadeja, accused Oreva of selling tickets without limitations and claimed that overpopulation was to blame for the collapse of the bridge.

Earlier, the local municipality was in charge of maintaining the bridge, which limited the number of people on the bridge at one time to 20, he said.

“While we are waiting for additional information, prima facie, the bridge collapse as too many people in the mid-section of the bridge were trying to sway it from one direction to the other,” an Oreva representative was cited as saying by the Indian Express newspaper.

Modi, the former chief minister of Gujarat, expressed his condolences of the victims’ families.

“Since yesterday, the government has been conducting relief and rescue operations in this hour of sadness. The state government is receiving assistance from both the federal and state governments.

The bridge, which connects the Darbargadh Palace historic hotel with the town, is 1.25 metres wide and spans 233 meters. It was constructed in 1877 when India was still a British territory.

Opposition politicians said the disaster exposed the lack of over-sight of infrastructure in the country.

“Not just extremely sad on bridge collapse in Morbi but also very angry. Because it was a catastrophe waiting to happen, Congressman Gurdeep Singh Sappal tweeted.