A colonial-era pedestrian bridge in India that was too crowded with religious revelers collapsed into the river below, killing at least 132 people, according to police on Monday (Oct 31).
The nearly 150-year-old suspension bridge in Morbi was hosting a religious festival when supporting cables snapped shortly after sundown on Sunday, according to authorities.
Numerous people were spilled into the river after a structure in the western state of Gujarat collapsed while others desperately clung to the debris while yelling for help.
One witness who spent the entire night trying to save lives said, “I saw the bridge collapse before my eyes,” without revealing his name.
“When a woman showed me a picture of her daughter and enquired as to whether or not I had saved her, it was traumatic. Not being able to inform her of her daughter’s passing.”
The bridge was “jam-packed,” according to Supran, another witness who spoke to local media.
“The cables broke, and the bridge collapsed in an instant. People tumbled to the ground and into the river, “said he.
Another Morbi resident, Ranjanbhai Patel, spoke to the local media about the challenges he and others faced when trying to rescue people and get them to safety.
“People who could swim were pulled ashore by our team. We were unable to save the majority of the people because they had fallen into the river “said he.
On Monday morning, senior police official Ashok Kumar Yadav informed AFP that there had been 132 fatalities to date. The majority of the victims, according to sources, were women and children.
15 more people were receiving medical care in a hospital.
A well-known tourist destination, the bridge over the Machchhu River, had only recently reopened following months of repairs.
News reports featured images of people scrambling up the twisted bridge rubble or attempting to swim to safety at night.
More than 130 people had been rescued, P Dekavadiya, the chief of police in Morbi, had earlier told AFP over the phone.
The 233m-long and 1.5m-wide suspension bridge was built with supplies brought from England, according to reports, and opened to traffic in 1880 by the British colonial authorities.
Despite not having a safety certificate, it reopened on Wednesday after seven months of repairs, according to broadcaster NDTV, and video from Saturday showed it swaying erratically.
According to Yadav, the district police have opened an investigation into the contractor. A five-person team has been assembled by the state to look into the tragedy.
Following the collapse, authorities immediately began a rescue operation, using boats and divers to look for missing people.
The Indian Army and Navy also sent in dozens of soldiers and sailors for the rescue effort.
The announcement of compensation for those killed and hurt in the accident was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was touring his native Gujarat at the time.
The bridge, which is located about 200 kilometers west of the state’s capital, Ahmedabad, is referred to as “an engineering marvel” on the Gujarati government’s website.
In India, accidents caused by outdated and improperly maintained infrastructure, including bridges, are frequent.
At least 26 people were killed in 2016 when a flyover in Kolkata, an eastern city, collapsed onto a busy street.
A bridge packed with festival goers collapsed in 2011 not far from the northeast Indian hill town of Darjeeling, killing at least 32 people.
In the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, less than a week later, a footbridge crossing a river collapsed, killing about 30 people.