Gujarat bridge collapse: Death toll rises to 132

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Published: 10/31/2022 5:50:20 AM
DK SHIVAKUMAR/ Twitter/ The Straits Times/ ANN

DK SHIVAKUMAR/ Twitter/ The Straits Times/ ANN

The death toll due to the collapse of a suspension bridge over a river in western Indian state of Gujarat's Morbi town mounted to 132 this morning (October 31, 2022) as rescue officials fished out more bodies.

"132 deaths have been reported so far," Gujarat Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi told the media, reports our New Delhi correspondent.

A criminal case has been registered. An investigation has begun today under the leadership of Range IGP, he said.

"More than 100 deaths have been reported till early morning. Around 177 people have been rescued. Nineteen people are under treatment," Gujarat Information Department said adding the army, navy, air force, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and fire brigade personnel are conducting search operations.

The more than a century-old bridge in Morbi city crashed at around 6.30 pm on Sunday when it was crammed with people.

"The search and rescue operation is still underway. The Indian army reached the incident site at around 3 am at night. We are trying to recover the bodies. Teams of NDRF are also carrying out rescue operations," Major Gaurav of the Indian Army said.

The National Disaster Response Force on Sunday rushed three teams to Morbi. NDRF Director General (DG) Atul Karwal said each of the three teams comprises 30 rescuers and four boats and is led by senior officers.

Harsh Sanghavi said an FIR has been registered against the private firm, which renovated the suspension bridge over Machchu river, on the charge of attempt to commit culpable homicide and culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Indian Penal Code section 304.

The suspension bridge, which was reopened for the public just four days before the accident after seven months of repair work by the private firm had not received the local municipality's "fitness certificate", an official said.

"The bridge was given to Oreva company for operation and maintenance for 15 years. In March this year, it was closed for the public for renovation. It reopened after renovation on the Gujarati New Year day celebrated on October 26," said Chief Officer of Morbi Municipality Sandeepsinh Zala.

"It was reopened to the public after the completion of the renovation work. But the local municipality had not yet issued any fitness certificate (after the renovation work)," he said.

Several leaders of opposition Congress party attacked Gujarat's ruling BJP over the bridge collapse. The party's spokesman Randeep Surjewala termed it as a "man-made tragedy" and accused the state government of being directly responsible for it.

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh asked if the incident was an "act of God or an act of fraud".


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