Morbi bridge collapse: NDRF says people may be trapped under floor of bridge | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Morbi bridge collapse: NDRF commandant says people may be trapped under floor of bridge, cites challenge in relief op

By, New Delhi
Oct 31, 2022 11:08 AM IST

NDRF commandant VVN Prasanna Kumar told news agency ANI that they are taking help of deep divers to rescue more people and recover bodies.

Rescue operations in Morbi district of Gujarat after a cable suspension bridge collapsed there continue on Monday, with multiple teams of rescue forces on the job. More than 130 people have died so far, with several still feared missing. Commandant of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said such a number of casualties from one area is a “first” for them, even as he pointed out that muddy water of the Machchuu river is posing a challenge for their divers to go underwater and look for people.

NDRF commandant VVN Prasanna Kumar. (ANI Photo)
NDRF commandant VVN Prasanna Kumar. (ANI Photo)

“The…challenge is that this is muddy water that causes visibility issues when our divers go underwater,” VVN Prasanna Kumar, NDRF commandant, told news agency ANI.

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Laying out the plan that they chalked out till now, Kumar said that the collapse area has been divided into three zones among the civil administration, State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), fire services, Indian Army, Navy, Indian Air Force (IAF) and NDRF.

He added that NDRF divers have rescued people and recovered bodies from their designated area, and suspect there might be people “trapped under [the] floor of bridge”. “We're taking help of deep divers,” Kumar was quoted as saying.

Furthermore, drones are being used to facilitate in the search and rescue operation. A video shared by ANI on Twitter shows rescue team personnel operating a drone and launching it for the task.

The incident happened on Sunday evening when 400-500 people were walking on the bridge - thrice the capacity of it. Eyewitnesses recounted that the collapse occurred in split seconds, following which more than 200 people fell into the river. Most of them were women, children and older people. Visuals and videos that emerged soon after showed people clambering to the cables of the collapsed bridge and some even trying to swim to safety. Local fishermen present at the site initially helped, but it soon became challenging owing to fading daylight. Later, rescue teams were deployed.

Also Read | Some youngsters shook Morbi bridge intentionally: Visitor recounts experience

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to inform that he spoke with Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, and called for “urgent mobilisation” of teams. Patel, meanwhile, cancelled all his engagements for Sunday and reached the collapse site late last night to take stock of the situation.

Both the PM and Patel have announced financial aid for the next of kin of the victims and those injured. PM Modi announced ex gratia of 2 lakh from PMNRF for the families of deceased and 50,000 for the injured, while the Gujarat CM said that his government will give 4 lakh ex gratia to deceased persons' families and 50,000 for those injured.

Gujarat home minister Harsh Sanghavi said a five-member committee has been formed to look into the lapses behind the repair and renovation of the bridge. He added that a criminal cases under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) has been lodged in the matter. Sanghavi stated that strict action will be taken against those found responsible.

Rescue teams were on the job overnight, and fished more bodies from the bed of Machchuu river, thereby causing the rise in death toll. When the incident was initially reported, at least 40 were confirmed dead by Gujarat police. The number stood at 133 at the time of writing this report.

The 756-metre-long cable bridge opened for public on October 26, which marks the Gujarati New Year, after undergoing renovation for six months. Most people had gathered in Morbi for Diwali holidays, weekend getaways and Chhath Puja celebrations.

(With inputs from agencies)

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