Reopened a week ago, Morbi bridge was overcrowded: What led to tragedy? 5 points
Rescue operations are underway and the death toll is expected to rise further. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Bhupendra Patel have announced financial aid for those injured and ex gratia for the kin of the deceased.
Morbi bridge collapse: More than 60 lives were lost after a 100-year-old suspension bridge collapsed in Machchu river in Gujarat's Morbi town on Sunday. Hundreds of people are still feared trapped. Five teams of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) are being deployed from Gandhinagar, Vadodara and Rajkot to fast-track the rescue operations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Bhupendra Patel have announced financial aid for those injured and ex gratia for the kin of those who passed away.
Videos and images showed people clinging onto the cables of the collapsed bridge as emergency teams made efforts to rescue them. Some were seen struggling and swimming their way to come out of water, while many were found in an unconscious state on the river bank. Divers have been deployed to search for missing people. (Track live updates)
What we know so far about the bridge collapse:
1. 100-year-old bridge: Popularly known as the ‘hanging bridge’, the 230-metre-long Morbi bridge was built during British rule in the 19th century. It was first inaugurated on February 20, 1879, by then-Mumbai governor Richard Temple.
2. Closed for last six months: The Morbi bridge was closed for renovation and repair work for the last six months. It was reopened for the public on October 26 in view of Diwali and other festivities. Over the years, it has undergone several rounds of repair and renovation work.
3. No fitness certificate: The bridge had not received a fitness report but it was reopened in view of Gujarati New Year, which is celebrated a day after Diwali. A private trust had undertaken the repair work and opened it without submitting the fitness certificate.
4. Bridge overcrowded: According to locals and eyewitnesses, the main reason behind the cable snapping was that it was too populated – with about 400 to 500 people. The bridge had a capacity for 150 persons. BJP MP Mohanbhai Kalyanji Kundariya, who was on the site, said the victims consisted of many children, women and elderly. He called the incident “very saddening” and said they were taking it very seriously.
5. Army, Air Force join rescue ops: The number of people injured and missing could be anywhere upwards of 400, according to local media reports. According to officials, platoons of the NDRF with 50 personnel of the Indian Navy, along with 30 personnel of the Indian Air Force and two columns of Army personnel have been deployed for rescue operations. Seven teams of fire brigade with advanced equipment have also been sent to the spot.