‘6 of us went, only…’: Survivors share agony of losing friends in Morbi bridge collapse
Overcrowding and negligence on part of those responsible for handling the bridge have so far emerged as primary concerns for the mishap. Between 400 and 500 people were on the bridge at the time of the accident, which was thrice its capacity.
As the search and rescue operation continues in Machchuu river on Tuesday following the horrific cable suspension bridge collapse in Morbi district of Gujarat that claimed the lives of more than 130 people, more and more survivors are coming forward to narrate the moments after the mishap took place.
A 23-year-old survivor, Parag Nagar, was on the bridge when it collapsed. He lost two of his friends in the tragic incident, and their bodies were recovered from the Machchuu river on Monday during the rescue operation.
Nagar saved himself by using the steel rod of the now-collapsed bridge to climb down to safety.
He has been at the accident site since this morning to see if any of his other friends or relatives died on Sunday evening when the 143-year-old bridge snapped.
“Mein yahan ghoomne keliye aya tha aur yeh sab hogaye (I had gone to the bridge to see it, and all these happened),” Nagar said.
Another survivor named Naim Sheikh, who is currently admitted at the Civil Hospital in Morbi, said that six of them had gone to the bridge on the fateful day but only five “came back”.
In visuals shared by news agency ANI, Sheikh could be seen with a cast around his left arm, sitting on the hospital bed. He said that he saved himself because he can swim. “My friends and I together managed to save a few people. It was heart-rending. I got hurt when I was bringing people to safety,” he was quoted as saying.
Several teams of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Army, Navy, IAF, Coast Guard, Gujarat fire department and civil administration have been deployed at the accident site for search and rescue operations.
Overcrowding and negligence on part of those responsible for handling the bridge have so far emerged as primary concerns for the mishap. In this regard, nine people have been arrested by Gujarat Police. Of them are two managers of electrical appliances manufacturing company Oreva, which has been maintaining the bridge for 15 years and had also done its renovation work recently. Around 400-500 people were on the bridge - thrice its capacity, at the time of the accident. A video has also emerged that show a few young people swinging the suspension bridge and moving along moments before it came crashing down.
Eyewitnesses have also recounted that people were simply going and walking on the bridge, despite a requirement of buying tickets being in place. They said no one was stopping them.
Besides the two Oreva managers, security guards and contractors, among others, have been nabbed by cops. The Gujarat government has registered an FIR of culpable homicide in the case and a five-member committee to look into the lapses, if any, in the repair work and renovation of the bridge.
After undergoing renovation for six months, the bridge had opened for public on October 26 that also marked Gujarati New Year. However, Morbi chief security officer Sandeep Singh Jhala said Oreva did not give the government any information about reopening the bridge and a mandatory fitness certificate may not have been issued to the firm as well.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who held a high-level meeting in Ahmedabad on Monday, is scheduled to visit Morbi later today to take stock of the situation.
(With inputs from agencies)