India: arrests in connection with the collapse of a suspension bridge which left at least 137 dead

India arrests in connection with suspension bridge collapse that left at least 137 dead


MORBI | Nine people were arrested by police on Monday in connection with Sunday's collapse of the suspension bridge in Morbi, India, which killed at least 137 people. 

The nine people, all associated with a company maintaining the newly renovated structure, are being investigated for manslaughter, Rajkot District Inspector General Ashok Kumar Yadav said. , in a press release.

Authorities have put the number of people celebrating Diwali on this pedestrian bridge in Morbi, about 200 kilometers west of Ahmedabad, the main city, at 500. of Gujarat State, when the cables supporting it gave way shortly after nightfall.

According to the local police chief, P. Dekavadiya, 137 dead had been recorded on Monday afternoon, including around 50 children. The youngest was a two-year-old boy, he said.

A local politician, Kalyanji Kundariya, told the press that he lost 12 family members in the disaster, including five children.

Without certificate of conformity

The state government has appointed a team of five investigators to determine the causes of the tragedy, Ashok Kumar Yadav said Monday morning.

According to press reports, the contractor is the group Oreva, which is headquartered in Morbi and was not immediately available for comment.

The 233-metre-long suspension bridge was built in 1880 over the Machchhu (the name of the river) with materials imported from England, local media recalled.

Sandeepsinh Jhala, the head of the municipality of Morbi, noted that no certificate of conformity had been issued before the reopening to the public, last Wednesday, of this work.

The police chief of Morbi, P. Dekavadiya, told AFP that more than 130 people had been rescued. At least 15 people are hospitalized.

The Gujarat Tourism Department describes the 'great suspension bridge' as an 'artistic and technological marvel'.

According to CCTV footage, the structure swayed before it caved in, throwing dozens of people into the river.

Modi expected at the scene

“The bridge collapsed before my eyes,” said a witness, without giving his name, after helping rescue victims all night.

“A woman showed me a photo of his daughter and asked me if I had rescued her, it was heartbreaking,” he told local media, “I couldn't tell him that his daughter was dead.”

“The bridge was full of people,” said Mr. Supran, another resident, before adding: “the cables dropped, the bridge collapsed in a fraction of a second. People, first falling on top of each other, fell into the river.”

“We helped people who were able to swim to the shore,” said a third witness, Ranjanbhai Patel, “but we couldn't save most of those who fell into the river.” According to him, most Indians cannot swim.

A rescue operation with divers, boats and dozens of troops was still underway on Monday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in Gujarat, where he is from, said to himself, on Twitter, “deeply saddened by this tragedy” and announced compensation for the victims.

Mr. Modi, expected on Tuesday, also claimed to have “rarely felt so much pain in his life.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to the families of the deceased on Monday, according to a Kremlin statement.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he was “deeply saddened”. Nepal, Bhutan and the United Kingdom also expressed their condolences.

Accidents involving old and poorly maintained infrastructure, including bridges, are common in India.

In 2016, the rupture of a bridge over a busy street in the city of Calcutta (east) caused the death of at least 26 people.