At least 70 people are killed when a suspension bridge in India
After being fixed up, the bridge in the state of Gujarat just reopened.
Officials say that at least 70 people died when a 100-year-old bridge in the western Indian state of Gujarat fell apart on Sunday evening, sending hundreds of people into the Machchhu River.
Brijesh Merja, a minister in the Gujarat government, said that about 350 people were on or near the bridge when it fell. The bridge was a popular place for tourists to visit. Officials say that most of the people who died were children, women, and older people.
The bridge fell down four days after it reopened to the public, seven months after it had been fixed up. It is about 755 feet long and was built in 1880, during the Victorian era.
Local TV stations showed video of people swimming to a part of the bridge that was hanging in the water. More than a dozen of them were struggling to hold on to the edge as they waited to be saved. Help calls from children and women could be heard.
Rescue workers worked quickly to pull people out of the river. The government of Gujarat showed on video how small boats helped save people. So far, 170 people have been saved, according to the office of the district collector in Morbi, which is where the bridge fell.
The collector’s office said that in addition to the national disaster response force, teams from the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force were on their way to help with the operation, which was hard because it was night and the river was dark.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is from Gujarat and was there for a three-day visit, said that the families of those who were killed or hurt would get money.
The Hindu festival season brought more tourists and families to the recently reopened bridge over the weekend, when it was especially busy. Hundreds of migrant factory workers were on the bridge when it collapsed. The Morbi district is home to thousands of factories that make ceramic tiles, bathroom products, and wall clocks.
People are now wondering if the private company that runs the bridge reopened it to the public before the holidays without making sure it was safe to do so. Local news outlets reported that city officials said the bridge may have been opened without a “fitness certificate.” Officials from the state said they would look into the matter.
Concerns about the safety of India’s infrastructure have been around for a long time. Huge amounts of money have been spent on building and maintaining roads and bridges, which has led to accusations of corruption and made it so that Indians don’t have good roads and bridges and there are often large numbers of deaths.
Gujarat, which has about 60 million people, is in the middle of a tough election season, and a vote for the local government is expected in the coming months. Since 1998, Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has been in charge of the state, and his 12 years as chief minister of Gujarat helped him get elected to the national level.