The deadly incident in Gujarat’s Morbi district wherein a cable bridge over the Machchuu river collapsed on Sunday evening have so far claimed the lives of at least 132 people, many of them women, children and elderly. Several people have lost their near and dear ones, and in such a case, seven members of a family from Jamnagar district died in the mishap.
Among the deceased family members were five children. They hailed from the Jaliya Devani village in Dhrol taluka in Jamnagar. Visuals shared online by news agency ANI showed villagers gathered as the bodies of the deceased people are taken for their last rites.
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The British-era bridge, which had undergone several renovations over the years, underwent the latest one recently. After remaining closed for six months, the renovation work was completed before Diwali and the bridge reopened for public on October 26 that marked Gujarati New Year.
At the time of the accident, 400-500 people were walking on the bridge, which was thrice its capacity. It took only split seconds for the newly renovated bridge to snap, following which more than 200 persons fell into the river. Eyewitnesses said many of those who got plunged into the water body, fell on top of each other.
Visuals and multiple videos that surfaced online soon after the incident showed people, including women and children, holding onto the cables of the collapsed bridge and some even swimming to take themselves to safety. Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, and called for an “urgent mobilisation” of teams.
Multiple teams of the SDRF, NDRF, fire department, civil administration, Army, IAF, Navy and Coast Guard are currently in search and rescue operation. They are using divers to go underwater and look for trapped individuals or more bodies. Initially, the death toll was confirmed to be at 40 but the number shot up after an overnight rescue work during when teams fished out more bodies from the bed of the Machchuu river.
Gujarat home minister Harsh Sanghavi said that a criminal case has been registered in the matter, and a five-member team has been formed to look into the lapses of the repair and renovation of the bridge. Morbi chief security officer Sandeep Singh Jhala said Oreva – the company that looked after the bridge’s operation and maintenance – was probably not issued a fitness certificate to reopen it.
PM Modi will visit the accident site on Tuesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, several world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, have expressed their grief over the tragic incident that have claimed a large number of lives.