'Heartfelt condolences': Putin, Nepal PM join world leaders to express grief over Morbi bridge collapse

Updated on Oct 31, 2022 02:41 PM IST

More than 130 people have lost their lives so far in the incident, which occurred on Sunday evening. At the time of the accident, 400-500 were on the newly renovated bridge, which was thrice its capacity.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (File)(AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (File)(AFP)
By, New Delhi

The cable suspension bridge collapse in Gujarat's Morbi district that has so far taken the lives of more than 130 people, even as rescue operations continue in search of more trapped individuals, have drawn the attention of prominent world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Nepal's Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba.

In an official statement, Putin conveyed his condolences over the tragic incident to his Indian counterpart Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Catch live updates of Morbi bridge collapse here

“Dear Ms President, dear Mr Prime Minister, please accept my heartfelt condolences over the tragic bridge collapse in the state of Gujarat,” the message by the Russian president read.

Putin also conveyed his words of sympathy and support to the families and friends of the victims, and “wished all those injured a speedy recovery”, Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported on Monday.

Besides Putin, Nepal's Prime Minister Deuba took to Twitter to express his grief over the loss of “precious lives”, saying he is “deeply saddened” by the tragic incident of bridge collapse in Morbi.

“We extend heartfelt condolences to the Government and people of India on the loss of precious lives. Our thoughts & prayers are with the bereaved families,” his post on the micro-blogging site read.

British high commissioner to India, Alex Ellis, also took to the social media site to condole the loss of lives. “Terrible, shocking news from #Gujarat,” he wrote along with a BBC report on the collapse incident.

Singapore's high commissioner to India, Simon Wong, also joined Ellis. “Deeply saddened by the loss of many lives due to the collapse of the cable bridge in Morbi, Gujarat. Our thoughts and deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased and the injured. Our hearts are with the people of Gujarat,” he tweeted.

The collapse occurred on Sunday evening when 400-500 people were walking on the bridge over Machchuu river, which was thrice its capacity. In split seconds, the bridge came crashing down, plunging more than 200 people - mainly women, children and elderly - into the water body. Local fisherman present at the site jumped to the rescue but faced challenges due to fading daylight.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter soon after, and informed that he had spoken with Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, and has called for “urgent mobilisation” of teams. Initially the death toll was confirmed at 40, but after an overnight relief work, more bodies were fished out of the bed of Machchuu river, taking the death toll to over 130.

Multiple teams of the NDRF, SDRF, Indian Army, IAF, Navy, Coast Guard, local administration and fire department continue with their search and rescue operation. Earlier in the day, NDRF commandant VVN Prasanna Kumar told news agency ANI that their divers are facing visibility issues underwater due to the river water being muddy. He suspected more bodies could be trapped under the floor of the collapsed bridge.

The British-era bridge opened for public on October 26 on Gujarati New Year after undergoing renovation for six months. Morbi chief security officer Sandeep Singh Jhala said that Oreva - the company that looked after the bridge's operation and maintenance - was probably not issued a fitness certificate to reopen it.

Gujarat home minister Harsh Sanghavi said a five-member committee has been formed to look into the lapses behind the renovation. A criminal case has also been registered in the matter.

PM Modi is scheduled to visit the Morbi accident site on Tuesday afternoon, a statement from Gujarat Chief Minister's Office (CMO) read.

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