What we know about India’s deadly Morbi bridge collapse in Gujarat



CNN

More than 50 children were among 135 people killed when a bridge collapsed in the Indian state of Gujarat on Sunday, according to a casualty list released by state authorities on Wednesday.

Investigators are investigating why the historic suspension bridge in the town of Morby collapsed, sending dozens of people into the river below, in one of the worst public safety tragedies to hit the country in recent years.

Questions have been raised about how the narrow walkway collapsed and the role of an electricity generation company tasked with maintaining the colonial-era structure, which only opened to the public last week after renovations.

Here’s what we know.

About 200 people are believed to have been on the bridge over the Machchu River in the town of Morbi when it collapsed on October 30 around 6:30 p.m. local time, according to Gujarat authorities.

According to data published on Wednesday, 54 children were among the dead. Most were under the age of 10 – the youngest was a 2-year-old boy.

A 36-second video shared by the Morbi district administration via CNN affiliate News-18 shows a large crowd of young men gathered on the bridge moments before it collapsed.

The video appears to show some of the men rocking the bridge from side to side before the structure gives way, plunging the people standing on it into the river.

Gujarat Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi said on 31 October that the cable seems to have broken.

Photos of the aftermath showed people gathering on the riverbank next to the disfigured metal walkway that hung at a sharp angle into the water.

Rescue workers conduct search operations after a bridge over the Machchhu River collapsed in Morbi in the Indian state of Gujarat on October 31, 2022.

Survivors and witnesses of the deadly incident described scenes of chaos.

“People were hanging from the bridge after the accident, but they slipped and fell into the river when it collapsed,” Raju, a witness who gave only one name, told Reuters. “I could not sleep the whole night as I had helped in the rescue operation. I took a lot of kids to the hospital.”

Narendrasinh Jadeja, whose friend lost seven members of his family, including four children, told Reuters: “I can’t describe how angry and helpless I feel.”

Rescue personnel conduct search operations in Morbi, October 31, 2022.

The Morbi Suspension Bridge was built during the British rule around 1900 and is 230 meters (755 ft) long and only 1.25 meters (4 ft) wide.

For decades, it has been a popular tourist attraction in the riverside town, whose cobbled streets bear the architectural legacy of colonial rule.

The bridge was closed for six months of repairs in April, according to the managing director of Oreva, a Gujarat-based electrical appliance maker that led the maintenance work.

screengrab accident on a bridge in India

Video shows people clinging to the wreckage after a deadly bridge crash

At a re-opening ceremony on October 26, the managing director told reporters the structure won’t need major work for “eight to 10 years,” according to a video of the event posted on social media.

A shoe lies near a damaged suspension bridge in Morbi, India, November 1, 2022.

A five-member special inquiry committee has been set up to probe the incident, Gujarat Home Minister Sanghavi said on 31 October.

Search and recovery operations for hundreds of personnel from state and national disaster relief teams and the Indian Army are ongoing.

Nine people have been arrested and are being investigated on charges of first degree murder, state police said on Oct. 31. All the suspects are related to Oreva.

They include two managers, two ticket clerks, two contractors and three security guards, according to senior police officer Ashok Kumar Yadav.

After the deadly incident, public attention turned to Oreva, a company based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city.

Oreva began as a watchmaker before diversifying into electronics, according to its website, which describes the firm as “the world’s largest watchmaker” and “one of India’s premier brands.”

CNN reached out to Oreva several times but did not hear back.

Mourners take part in a funeral procession as they carry the coffins of victims who died after a bridge over the Machchu river collapsed in Morbi in the Indian state of Gujarat on October 31, 2022.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the site of the fatal Morbi collapse on November 1.

After an aerial survey of the area, he was seen reviewing ongoing rescue operations while standing at one end of the collapsed suspension bridge.

“I went to Morby who witnessed the horrific crash on the bridge. He met with the families of the bereaved and expressed his condolences. I visited the site of the tragedy and went to the hospital where the injured are recovering,” Modi tweeted after visiting a local hospital.

The Indian leader added that he met the personnel involved in the rescue operations and chaired a review meeting.

The Gujarat chief minister’s office tweeted that Modi had “assured them of all possible assistance from the government”.

Search and recovery operations continued Tuesday as divers scanned the area for bodies.

The families of the victims will get compensation from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, Modi said earlier.

Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel said the state government would provide the equivalent of about $5,000 in compensation to the family of the deceased and about $600 each to the injured.

The cremations of the victims are expected to begin on November 1.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the site of the deadly bridge collapse in western India on Tuesday.

World leaders paid tribute to the victims and their families after the tragedy.

US President Joe Biden sent his condolences to those who lost loved ones during the collapse.

“Our hearts are with India today. Jill and I send our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones in the bridge collapse, and join the people of Gujarat in mourning the loss of too many broken lives,” Biden said in a statement Monday.

“The United States and India are indispensable partners with deep ties between our citizens. In this difficult hour, we will continue to stand and support the Indian people.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping also expressed his sympathies for Modi, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported.

“On behalf of the Chinese government and the Chinese people, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the victims and express our sincere sympathy to their families and the injured,” Xi said, according to CCTV.



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