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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale

Indian PM to visit collapsed bridge in Gujarat as rescuers continue search for bodies

Rescuers search for survivors in the river below a collapsed suspension bridge in Morbi, in the state of Gujarat in western India. © Reuters/stringer

Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modhi was on Tuesday due to visit a suspension bridge that collapsed into a river in Gujarat state on Sunday sending hundreds of festival-goers into the water, killing at least 135 of them.

Authorities believe all the missing have been accounted for but are nevertheless continuing search and rescue operations.

The death toll from the collapse of the 143-year-old bridge over the Machchu river in Morbi rose to 135 on Tuesday, as one of the injured died in hospital.

The 233-metre-long bridge, which was built in 1877, had reopened after several months of repairs just four days before it collapsed under the weight of hundreds of visitors in town to celebrate the Diwali and Chhath Puja festivals and the Gujarat new year.

An estimated 200 people, including many children, were on the bridge when it collapsed.

Army, navy and national disaster emergency responders were still deployed on Tuesday, with half a dozen divers searching through the dark water even though rescue teams believe that everyone believed missing has been accounted for.

Modi in his home state

Modi was already visiting Gujarat state at the time of the accident, and planned to go to the disaster site and Morbi hospital on Tuesday.

Gujarat declared Wednesday would be a day of mourning.

Authorities said the bridge collapsed under the weight of hundreds of people. A security video of the disaster showed it shaking violently and people trying to hold on to its cables and metal fencing before the aluminum walkway gave out and crashed into the river.

Police arrested nine people on Monday, including ticketing clerks accused of letting too many people onto the bridge and managers of the bridge’s operator, which is being charged with culpable homicide, attempted culpable homicide and other violations.

The Oreva group, known mainly for making clocks, mosquito zappers and electric bikes, was awarded a 15-year contract in March by the Morbi town council to maintain and manage the bridge.

(with wires)

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