9 arrested after bridge collapse leaves 134 dead in India
New Delhi, Oct 31 (EFE).- The Indian authorities reported Monday the arrest of at least nine people involved in a bridge collapse that has so far left 134 dead and more than 60 wounded in the western state of Gujarat.
The centenary bridge, which collapsed on Sunday, had opened four days ago after being closed to the public for seven months for renovation.
The police superintendent’s office in Morbi – where the incident occurred – confirmed to EFE the arrest of 9 people allegedly associated with the collapse of the bridge that left at least 134 people dead and between 60 and 65 others injured.
Among those arrested are two managers of Oreva – the firm responsible for the renovation of the bridge -, two contractors, two ticket clerks and three security guards, Rajkot’s Inspector General of Police Ashok Kumar Yadav told the media.
The official said an investigation was underway to clarify what happened, and more arrests were expected in connection with the case.
Those arrested face charges of involuntary homicide.
Some 100 ambulances, more than 40 medical teams, two National Disaster Response Force teams, two State Disaster Response Force teams, six columns of the Army, 330 columns of Garud Command air force, 50 navy personnel, 18 boats, were deployed for rescue and relief work, according to Yadav.
The accident in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, where regional elections are due by the year’s end or early next year, took place on Sunday evening when hundreds of people had gathered on the 150-year-old bridge for a Hindu ritual.
Videos from the accident showed people falling on top of each other after some cables of the iconic bridge started snapping.
Some swam to safety but those, who could not, mostly women and children, either suffered injuries or succumbed.
Morbi municipal body head Sandeepsinh Zhala told reporters on Sunday that the bridge was yet to be cleared for reopening as the renovating company had not taken a safety certificate.
At the time of the accident, an estimated 400-500 people were on the bridge, and more than a hundred fell into the river.
Ashwin Mehra, a survivor of the tragedy, told the local ANI agency that a group of young people were shaking the structure when “three noises were heard and the bridge broke.”
Mehra and his friend Prakash managed to save themselves by clinging to the branches of a nearby tree, he added.
Migul Rawal, another survivor, told local media India Today that he fell into the river and got injured, and now must undergo an operation on his leg.
“There were lots of people. Public was rushing from both sides. The bridge was shaking a lot. We go on that bridge very often but have never seen it shake this much,”
Prime Minister Modi, who is touring the state, said the federal government would give to the families of the victims.
“(The prime minister) has announced an ex-gratia of Rs.200,000 from (the PM National Relief Fund) for the next of kin of each of those who lost their lives in the mishap in Morbi. The injured would be given Rs.50,000,” his office said in a tweet.
State Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel also announced Rs.400,000 lakhs to the family of each deceased and Rs.50,000 to the injured.
The 230-meter bridge was built in the 19th century.