Eva Deschamps / October 31, 2022
At least 132 people died in India when a colonial-era pedestrian bridge over a river in the western state of Gujarat collapsed Sunday night, local police said Monday.
Authorities estimated that 500 people, including women and children, were celebrating a religious festival on and around the bridge when the cables supporting it snapped shortly after dark. For now, the death toll from the accident is at least 132, Rajkot district inspector general Ashok Kumar Yadav said Monday morning.
“So far, 132 people have died in the bridge collapse. We have not yet received the list of the deceased,” Yadav told AFP.
According to district administration sources, most of the dead are women and children.
The state government has appointed a team of five investigators to determine the cause of the bridge collapse, Yadav added.
A complaint against X for involuntary manslaughter has been filed. At least 15 people are hospitalized.
Morbi police chief P. Dekavadiya told AFP that more than 130 people had been rescued.
The bridge over the Machchhu River, located in Morbi, about 200 kilometers west of Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s main city, dated from the British colonial era and had just reopened to the public after months of work.
“The bridge collapsed before my eyes,” said an unnamed witness, after helping to rescue victims of the accident all night.
A woman showed me a picture of her daughter and asked me if I had saved her, it was upsetting,” he told local media, “I couldn’t tell her that her daughter was dead.” “The bridge was full of people,” said Mr. Supran, another resident, “the cables gave out, the bridge collapsed in a split second. People, first falling on top of each other, fell into the river.” “We helped the people who were able to swim to the shore,” said another witness, Ranjanbhai Patel, “but we could not save most of those who fell into the river. »
The 233-meter long suspension bridge was built in 1880 with materials imported from England, according to local media. According to NDTV, it was reopened to the public on Wednesday, after seven months of work, without a safety certificate being issued by the authorities. A rescue operation was launched, involving divers, boats and dozens of soldiers. Authorities planned to cut off the river’s water supply from the nearby check dam and use pumps to dry the river to speed up search operations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in his native Gujarat, called for “urgent mobilization of rescue teams” and the provision of aid to all victims, his office said on Twitter. Accidents involving old and poorly maintained infrastructure are common in India, especially bridges. In 2016, the failure of a footbridge over a busy street in the eastern city of Kolkata killed at least 26 people.
In 2011, at least 32 people died when a bridge over which a crowd was celebrating a festival collapsed in northeast India, about 30 kilometers from the city of Darjeeling. Less than a week later, about 30 people died when a bridge over a river in the northeastern state of Aruchnal Pradesh broke down. In 2006, at least 34 people were killed when a 150-year-old bridge collapsed on a passenger train at a station in the eastern state of Bihar.