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India bridge collapse: children among at least 60 dead

At least 60 people were killed in India on Sunday when a bridge collapsed in the western state of Gujarat, causing hundreds of people to fall into the water, officials said.

The Morbi town bridge was recently renovated and the government will investigate how and why the incident happened, said Minister of State at the Gujrat Ministry of Labor and Employment, Brijesh Merja. The focus is currently on search and rescue operations, he added.

Speaking to NDTV in an interview filmed from the site of the tragedy, he said at least 17 people were being treated in hospital. Children were among those killed, MP Mohanbhai Kalyanji Kundariya told NDTV.

Indian army, navy and air force personnel are taking part in search and rescue operations, according to Chief Minister of India’s Gujarat state, Bhupendra Patel.

Patel said the armed forces would assist the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the National Disaster Response Force (SDRF).

Gujarat State Minister Merja said three NDRF platoons, 50 navy personnel, 30 air force personnel, two columns of army personnel and seven Fire crews from Rajkot, Jamnagar and Diu were deployed for rescue and relief efforts. He also said that an isolation ward had been set up at the Civil Hospital in Rajkot for treatment.

Families of the victims will receive money from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, according to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi tweeted that he was “deeply saddened” by the tragedy in Morbi, saying rescue and relief operations were underway.

Gujarat Chief Minister Patel said he was heading to Morbi and canceling all his pre-planned events for the day.

“I express my condolences to the families of the citizens who lost their lives in this tragedy. The state government will provide Rs 4 lakhs for the family of each deceased and Rs 50,000 for the injured,” Patel tweeted.

Television footage showed dozens of people holding the cables and the remains of the bridge as emergency crews tried to reach them, Reuters reported. Some scaled the destroyed structure to reach the banks of the river, while others swam to safety.

More than 150 people were on the bridge, which is a tourist attraction, at the time of the disaster, Interior Minister Harsh Sanghavi said. The 230-meter bridge was built in the 19th century and only reopened to the public last week after renovations.


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