At least 60 people, many of them women and children, died after a century-old suspension bridge on the Machchhu river in Gujarat's Morbi city collapsed on Sunday evening, officials said.
The bridge, which reopened four days ago after extensive repairs and renovation, was crammed with people when it collapsed around 6.30 pm, officials said.
“At least 60 persons have died in the tragedy,” Gujarat minister Brijesh Merja told reporters.
Eyewitnesses said there were several women and children on the British era “hanging bridge” when it snapped, plunging them into the water below.
Some people were seen jumping on the bridge and pulling its big wires, an eyewitness said. The bridge may have collapsed due to the “huge crowd” on it, he added.
People fell over each other when the bridge collapsed, he said.
“I had come to the river bank along with friends after my office hours when we heard the sound of the bridge snapping. We rushed there and jumped into the water to save people,” an eyewitness said.
“We rescued some children and women,” he said.
A man who was injured in the incident, said the collapse was sudden and may have been due to too many people on the bridge.
Due to the Diwali vacation and being a Sunday, there was a rush of tourists on the bridge, a major tourist attraction.
A private operator had carried out the repair work of the bridge for nearly six months before it was reopened to the public on the Gujarati New Year day on October 26.
A fire department official said that boats were being used to rescue people from the river.
"We are carrying out rescue work using boats. There are around 40-50 people in the river," the official said.
The National Disaster Response Force rushed three teams to Morbi district.
Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel said he was saddened by the tragedy.
"Relief and rescue operations by the administration are going on. The administration has been instructed to arrange immediate treatment for the injured. I am in constant contact with the district administration in this regard," he said.
An isolation ward has also been set up in the civil hospital for treatment of those injured in the bridge collapse, the Chief Minister's Office said.
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a tweet that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is currently in Gujarat, spoke to Patel and officials.
Modi sought urgent mobilisation of teams for rescue ops, the PMO said, adding the PM has asked that the situation be closely and continuously monitored, and all possible help be extended to those affected.
President Droupadi Murmu and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar expressed grief over the bridge collapse and prayed for the safe rescue of others.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said he was deeply saddened by the bridge collapse and appealed to party workers in the state to extend every possible assistance in rescue work.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi also said the news of the bridge collapse accident was very saddening, and appealed to all Congress workers to extend all possible help to the injured.
CPI leader Binoy Viswam hit out at the BJP over the bridge collapse, claiming that it points to the "gross negligence" of the state government.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
First Published: Oct 30 2022 | 8:04 PM IST