132 dead in Indian tragedy as British-era cable bridge collapses 4 days after it was reopened
Agencies | New Delhi
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
A British-era bridge in Gujarat's Morbi has collapsed just a week after renovation, killing 132 people, Gujarat Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi said on Monday.
The Gujarat Home Minister further informed that a criminal case has been registered in connection with the incident.
The bridge, which reopened five days ago after extensive repairs and renovation, was crammed with people when it collapsed at around 6.30pm, officials said.
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 riverbank 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.
"An investigation has begun today under the leadership of Range IGP," Sanghavi said.
"Everyone worked all through the night. The navy, NDRF (National Disaster Relief Force), air force and the army arrived at the spot quickly. More than 200 persons have worked the entire night for search and rescue operations."
Besides this, teams from other places also started arriving at the spot. Around 40 doctors from various health centres, Rajkot PDU Hospital and Surendranagar Civil Hospital started emergency treatment of the injured at the Morbi Civil Hospital.
After the collapse of the bridge, the Rajkot Municipal Corporation boat and rescue materials including life jackets reached Morbi and started the rescue operation.
Emergency ambulances from Rajkot, Jamnagar, Junagadh Metropolitan Municipality and Morbi Municipality were running throughout the night to bring the injured to the hospital immediately. Several private ambulances were also involved in the rescue operation.
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.