Overcrowding and lapses in repair have emerged as core concerns as fresh details are being revealed about the bridge collapse incident in Gujarat’s Morbi, which killed over 130 people, including more than 40 children. The horror of the collapse of the Hanging Bridge – which took just a few moments on Sunday evening – has been caught in visuals of weekend visitors who were caught unaware as the tragedy struck. Those who survived have shocking experiences to share of the 233-metres-long cable bridge plunging about 33 feet into river Machchhu. Not just India, there has been outpouring of responses from across the world. “”Today, our hearts are with India. Jill and I send our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones during the bridge collapse, and join the people of Gujarat in mourning the loss of too many lives cut short,” US President Joe Biden said on Monday.
Here are ten latest points on the Morbi bridge collapse incident:
1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi – who arrived in his home state on Sunday for the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Tata-Airbus Vadodara plant – is set to visit the accident site on Tuesday afternoon. On Monday evening, he held a high-level meeting on the Morbi incident. The meeting was attended by Chief Minister Bhupendra Bhai Patel, Minister of State Home Harsh Sanghavi, the Chief Secretary and DGP of Gujarat, along with other top officials. He was briefed about the rescue operation.
2. Teams of Armed Forces personnel, Navy, Air Force, apart from the NDRF have been part of the rescue operations. PM Modi had a packed schedule when he began the Gujarat visit on Sunday, but it was revisited. On Monday, during an event, he was seen getting emotional. Earlier in the day, he explained why he did not pause the business as usual. “On one side is a heart full of hurt and on the other there is the path of duty and work. Rarely have I ever felt this sort of pain,” he said at the Rasthriya Ekta Diwas event in Kevadia.
3. In the bridge collapse incident, a a first investigation report (FIR) – that underlines allegations of causing death by negligence among other charges – has been filed. On Monday, nine people were arrested. Manufacturing firm Oreva group – tasked with the maintenance of the bridge for 15 years – is also under the scanner; and two of its employees have been booked.
4. The company – which is known for making Ajanta clocks – has been booked for “callous approach”. The bridge was reopened on October 26 after repairs. “We have no idea whether the fitness certificate was issued to the company for re-opening the bridge or not,” Sandeep Sinh Jhala, chief officer for Morbi municipality said on Saturday. Jhala also said authorities have no information on the kind of material used during the renovation.
5. Meanwhile, even as the Congress’s chief – Mallikarjun Kharge – and party leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday stressed that it would not get into the political blame game, the leaders of the rival party have been targeting the BJP ahead of the polls.
6. “Modi ji, is the Morbi bridge accident an Act of God or Act of Fraud?” senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh tweeted. Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, on the other hand, has been sharing an old video of the Prime Minister talking about a 2016 Kolkata flyover incident when 20 people died.
7. The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Gujarat chief Gopal Italia tweeted: “What could be worse than this? When the DM of Morbi district himself refused to give this bridge to a private company, a call came from a big leader from Gandhinagar and then the corporation handed over the bridge to the private company.”
8. Amid the stories of losses, stories of self-lessness and heroism are also emerging of locals being part of the rescue operations even before the teams arrived. Fishermen too helped.
9. A five-member team is investigating the incident – one of the worst such disasters of recent times.
10. An ex-gratia of ₹2 lakh from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) for the next of kin of each of the deceased has been announced, and ₹50,000 to each of the injured. The Gujarat government has announced a compensation of ₹4 lakh for the kin of the deceased and ₹50,000 for the injured.