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At least 68 dead and 30 injured in bridge collapse in India


At least 68 people were killed when a pedestrian bridge collapsed over a river in the Indian state of Gujarat on Sunday, plunging hundreds into the water, officials said.

Authorities said more than 400 people were in and around the suspension bridge over the Machhu River in the town of Morbi at the time of the collapse on Sunday evening.

Television footage showed dozens of people clinging to cables and twisting remains of the collapsed bridge as emergency crews struggled to save them.

Some scaled the broken structure in an attempt to make their way to the river banks, while others swam to safety.

“The death toll is 68,” NK Muchhar, a senior Morbi official, told Reuters.

At least 30 people were also injured, other officials said.

Prateek Vasava, who swam to shore after falling from the bridge, told local news channel 24 Hours he saw several children fall into the river.

People cling to the collapsed suspension bridge in Morbi, India.
ANI/Document via REUTERS

“I wanted to take a few with me, but they drowned or were swept away,” he said.

The bridge collapsed within seconds, he said.

Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi said more than 150 people were on the narrow cable-stayed bridge, a tourist attraction that has drawn many tourists during the festive season when Diwali and Chhath Puja are celebrated.

The historic 230 meter bridge was built during British rule in the 19th century. It had been closed for renovations for six months and reopened to the public last week.

At least 68 dead and 30 injured in bridge collapse in India
Hundreds of people fell into the water after a pedestrian bridge collapsed.
AP Photo/Rajesh Ambaliya
At least 68 dead and 30 injured in bridge collapse in India
Military personnel were called in to help with rescues, along with a national disaster management team.
REUTERS/Stringer

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in his home state of Gujarat for a three-day visit, said he had ordered the state’s chief minister to urgently mobilize teams for the rescue operation.

Fifty navy and 30 air force personnel have been called in to assist, along with a national disaster management team, in locating missing persons, the government said in a statement. A five-member team has been appointed to investigate the disaster.

Morbi is one of the largest ceramic manufacturing clusters in the world and accounts for over 80% of India’s ceramic production.

The incident comes ahead of elections in Gujarat, which are expected to be held by the end of the year, with Modi’s ruling party’s current term ending in February 2023.

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