Home » Nine arrested after bridge collapses in India, killing 134

Nine arrested after bridge collapses in India, killing 134

by Mahmmod Shar

Police in western India have arrested nine people as they investigate the collapse of a newly repaired 143-year-old suspension bridge


MORBI, India — Police in western India arrested nine people on Monday as they investigated the collapse of a newly repaired 143-year-old suspension bridge in one of the country’s worst accidents in years, officials said. The collapse Sunday evening in Gujarat state plunged hundreds of people into a river, killing at least 134.

As families mourned the dead, attention turned to why the pedestrian bridge, built during British colonialism in the late 1800s and touted by the state’s tourism website as an “artistic and technological marvel,” collapsed and who might be responsible. The bridge had reopened just four days earlier.

Inspector-General Ashok Yadav said police have formed a special investigative team, and that those arrested include managers of the bridge’s operator, Oreva Group, and its staff.

“We won’t let the guilty get away, we won’t spare anyone,” Yadav said.

Gujarat authorities opened a case against Oreva for suspected culpable homicide, attempted culpable homicide and other violations.

In March, the local Morbi town government awarded a 15-year contract to maintain and manage the bridge to Oreva, a group of companies known mainly for making clocks, mosquito zappers and electric bikes. The same month, Oreva closed the bridge, which spans a wide section of the Machchu river, for repairs.

The bridge has been repaired several times in the past and many of its original parts have been replaced over the years.

It was reopened nearly seven months later, on Oct. 26, the first day of the Gujarati New Year, which coincides with the Hindu festival season, and the attraction drew hundreds of sightseers.

Sandeepsinh Zala, a Morbi official, told the Indian Express newspaper the company reopened the bridge without first obtaining a “fitness certificate.” That could not be independently verified, but officials said they were investigating.

Authorities said the structure collapsed under the weight of hundreds of people. A security video of the disaster showed it shaking violently and people trying to hold on to its cables and metal fencing before the aluminum walkway gave way and crashed into the river.

The bridge split in the middle with its walkway hanging down, its cables snapped.

Police said at least 134 people were confirmed dead and many others were admitted to hospitals in critical condition. Emergency responders and rescuers worked overnight and throughout Monday to search for survivors. State minister Harsh Sanghvi said most of the victims were teenagers, women and older people.


India bridge collapse kills at least 132, including mostly teens, women and older people: officials

At least 177 survivors were pulled from the river, said Jigar Khunt, an information department official in Gujarat. It was unclear how many people were on the bridge when it collapsed and how many remained missing, but survivors said it was so densely packed that people were unable to quickly escape when its cables began to snap.

“There were just too many people on the bridge. We could barely move,” Sidik Bai, 27, said while recovering from injuries in a hospital in Morbi.

Sidik said he jumped into the water when the bridge began to crack and saw his friend being crushed by its metal walkway. He survived by clinging to the bridge’s cables.

“Everyone was crying for help, but one by one they all began disappearing in the water,” Sidik said.

Family members rushed to overcrowded hospitals in search of their loved ones as local news channels broadcast images of the missing that worried relatives had shared.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in Gujarat on a visit at the time of the accident, is a native of the state. In addition to announcing compensation for the families of the deceased and urging prompt rescue efforts, his office stated that he was “deeply saddened by the tragedy.”

During a public event in the state on Monday, Modi said, “Rarely in my life would I have experienced such pain.

Prior to being elected prime minister of India in 2014, Modi served as Gujarat’s top elected official for 12 years. In light of the impending election for the Gujarat state legislature, opposition parties have called for a full investigation into the accident.

The bridge collapse marked Asia’s third significant disaster in a month involving large crowds.

More than 150 people were killed on Saturday during a Halloween stampede in the Seoul, South Korea neighborhood of Itaewon. On October 1st, police in Indonesia used tear gas during a soccer game, causing a crush that resulted in the deaths of 132 spectators who were attempting to flee.

Safety issues have long plagued India’s infrastructure, and Morbi has seen other significant catastrophes. One of India’s worst dam failures occurred in 1979 when an upstream dam on the Machchu river burst, unleashing walls of water into the city and killing hundreds of people.

In Gujarat, an earthquake in 2001 resulted in thousands of fatalities. A large portion of Morbi, located 150 kilometers (90 miles) from the quake’s epicenter in Bhuj, was damaged. The Times of India newspaper reported that the bridge that collapsed on Sunday had also sustained significant damage.

Hussain, Saaliq and Pathi reported from New Delhi.

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