India Bridge Collapse: Everything We Know So Far

Rescue personnel conduct search operations after a bridge across the river Machchhu collapsed at Morbi in India's Gujarat state on October 31, 2022. (Photo: SAM PANTHAKY via Getty Images)
Rescue personnel conduct search operations after a bridge across the river Machchhu collapsed at Morbi in India's Gujarat state on October 31, 2022. (Photo: SAM PANTHAKY via Getty Images)

Rescue personnel conduct search operations after a bridge across the river Machchhu collapsed at Morbi in India's Gujarat state on October 31, 2022. (Photo: SAM PANTHAKY via Getty Images)

Around 400 people were on or near a foot bridge in India when it collapsed on Sunday.

At last count, 141 people had died, including many children, when it collapsed around 6.40pm local time. About 170 people had been rescued by Monday morning.

Here’s what we know so far...

What do we know about the bridge?

Built in 1877, the bridge – in the western state of Gujarat, across the Machchhu River in the centre of Morbi town – was reopened last week after repairs.

Sightseers had packed onto the 233 metre long bridge when it collapsed.

It is only 1.25 metres wide, and connects the Darbargadh Palace heritage hotel to the town.

However, local officials told Reuters that the manager of the bridge had not informed authorities it was going to open after repairs. Reportedly, no certificate that it was fit for public use was issued.

Chief officer of Morbi municipality, Sandeepsinh Zala, said: “They did not give us any information that they were reopening the bridge. We have not issued any fitness certificate to them.”

The muddy waters of Machchhu have allegedly made it harder to rescue those in the river, and officials feared people could be trapped under the remains of the bridge.

Why were people on the bridge?

It is a popular tourist attraction, known as the swinging bridge (Julto Pul). People had purchased tickets to go on it to celebrate Diwali and Chhath Puja festivals.

Around 35 of the victims were under 14 years old, according to Reuters.

What caused it?

An eyewitness also told the news agency: “Many people were enjoying holidays for Diwali and they came here as tourists. All of them fell one on top of another. The bridge collapsed due to overloading.”

Nine people have been detained by the police as part of a criminal investigation, according to Reuters, but any details of those detained are yet to be revealed.

CCTV footage from shortly before the tragedy also showed young men taking photos while others tried to rock the suspension bridge from side to side.

The cables holding the bridge up then snapped – meaning everyone standing on the bridge fell 10 metres into the river.

A local lawmaker from prime minister Narendra Modi’s party also blamed the bridge management company for selling tickets without restrictions, leading to overcrowding, although the firm did not respond to Reuters for comment. 

Previously, when managed by the local municipality, the number of people on the bridge at any time was limited to 20.

What happens next?

Modi, former chief minister of Gujarat, is expected to visit the area on Tuesday.

He told the public: “In this hour of grief, the government is with the bereaved families in every manner.”

The authorities have promised a full investigation.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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