141 people have died after a British-era bridge in Gujarat's Morbi collapsed last evening. One hundred seventy-seven people have been saved, and teams are searching for several others who are still missing. Around 500 people, including women and children, were on the suspension bridge when the cables supporting it snapped, sending people crashing into the river below. People performed Chhath puja rituals on the 150-year-old bridge 300 km from Ahmedabad. People fell on top of each other after the bridge snapped.
The bridge over the Machchhu river had been shut for seven months for repairs. It was reopened to the public on October 26, the Gujarati New Year. "Renovation happened last week. We are also shocked. We are looking into the matter. The government takes responsibility for this tragedy," Brijesh Merja, Gujarat's minister for Labour and Employment, told in an exclusive interview.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Gujarat, said rescue and relief operations have been going on since yesterday, and the center is extending all help to the state. He said while pained, he also had to follow the path of duty.
Gujarat Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi said this morning that a criminal case had been registered, and a five-member high-powered committee is probing the bridge collapse. "A case has been registered under charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and intentional act causing death against whoever is found responsible," he said.
The renovator of the century-old bridge had not taken a safety certificate before reopening it, the local municipal body's chief Sandipsinh Zala, said. Five National Disaster Response Force teams, or NDRF, worked through the night to find the missing. The Army, Navy, and Air Force also joined the operation later.
The state government has announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the family members of each who died in the accident and Rs 50,000 for the injured. The Prime Minister also announced financial assistance of Rupees 2 lakh each to the victims' families.