90 feared dead as footbridge in Gujarat collapses days after repair | India News – Times of India

RAJKOT: At least 90 people were feared dead and scores injured when a just-renovated 140-year-old suspension bridge over the algae-lined Machchhu river in Gujarat’s Morbi collapsed Sunday evening under the weight of an estimated 400-strong holiday crowd, barely five days after the structure had been reopened to the public. The death toll could exceed 100, sources said.
Morbi MLA and minister of state Brijesh Merja confirmed 60-odd deaths as the prospect of finding survivors appeared to dim around 10.30pm, almost four hours after the bridge came down in a cacophony of snapping iron cables and horrified screams. Officials said the tragedy occurred between 6.30 and 7pm.
Rajkot Lok Sabha MP Mohan Kundariya, who lives in Morbi, confirmed to TOI that around 50 bodies had been fished out of the river and 100-odd injured survivors shifted to various hospitals. “The thick layer of algae is making the search operation a daunting task in the dark,” he said.
A team of Garuda commandos from the IAF left from Jamnagar to assist in the operation that was underway till late in the night. “Medical ambulances and doctors from nearby districts have rushed to Morbi to provide maximum care for the injured,” Merja said.
Minister of state for roads and buildings Jagdish Panchal said it was possible the British-era bridge collapsed due to overloading, given the fact that not less than 400 tickets had been issued to visitors in that period. “Prima facie, it is suspected there were more people on the bridge than its capacity.”
The state government constituted a five-member committee to probe the reason for the bridge collapse.
BN Bhatt, a local resident who possibly made the first call to the helpline 108 for emergency ambulance services, estimated that there were 500 people on the bridge when it gave way. “I counted more than 60 people being taken unconscious to hospital,” he said.
Gujarat DGP Ashish Bhatia said many people were seen hanging from the bridge when the rescue effort began.
Besides National Disaster Response Force teams, the Army was also called in. Six boats, as many ambulances and two rescue vans were rushed from Rajkot to Morbi. A total of 25 EMRI ambulances were at the spot to take patients to Morbi Civil Hospital, collector GT Pandya said.
PM Narendra Modi announced ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh from the national relief fund to each of the families of the victims and Rs 50,000 each to the injured. CM Bhupendra Patel, who cancelled all his engagements to reach Morbi, announced Rs 4 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each for the injured.
PM Modi tweeted in Gujarati, “I am deeply saddened by the tragedy at Morbi. Talked to Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel and other officials about this. Relief and rescue operations are going on in full swing and all necessary assistance is being provided to the affected.”
President Droupadi Murmu condoled the deaths from her official Twitter handle. “The tragedy in Morbi, Gujarat has left me worried. My thoughts and prayers are with the affected people. Relief and rescue efforts will bring succour to the victims,” she wrote.
The 1.25m wide and 233m long bridge suspension structure near Mani Mandir had been closed for six months to complete a Rs 2-crore renovation. The bridge, built on a budget of Rs 3.5 lakh, had been inaugurated on February 20, 1879, by the then Mumbai governor Richard Temple. All the material required for the structure – meant to connect Darbargarh, the official residence of the erstwhile Royal family of Morbi, to Nazarbagh – was shipped from England.

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