India bridge collapse: 132 people dead after incident in Gujarat state

At least 132 people have died after a suspension bridge collapsed in India.

Government officials confirmed the death toll after scores of people plunged into the river below following the collapse.

The footbridge over the Machhu river in the town of Morbi in India's western Gujarat state collapsed on Sunday, just days after being reopened following renovations.

Authorities said more than 150 people were on the suspension bridge at the time.

Footage broadcast by local TV channel Zee News showed people clinging onto the cables of the collapsed bridge as emergency teams sought to rescue them.

Mobile video footage shot by passers-by and shared on social media showed scores of people, including children, scrambling to climb out of the water and back up the twisted structure of the broken bridge to safety.

Officials said the victims are mostly local people who were visiting the bridge for recreational purposes.

Amit Jhala, a senior administrator at the state-run hospital where victims had been taken, said that while many people had been rescued, some were still missing.

The 230-metre historic bridge was built during British rule in the 19th century. It had been closed for renovation for six months and was reopened to the public last week.

The bridge gave way as it could not handle the number of people on it, officials told the Press Trust India.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Gujarat for a three-day visit, said he has directed the state chief minister to mobilise teams urgently for the rescue operation.

An official tweet from his office announced that compensation from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) would be offered to those caught up in the incident, with 200,000 Indian rupees offered to the families of the dead (around £2,090) and 50,000 Indian rupees (around £520) offered to the injured.

Morbi is one of the largest ceramic manufacturing clusters in the world and accounts for more than 80% of India's ceramic output.

The incident comes ahead of elections in Gujarat, which are expected to be held by the year-end, with the current term of Modi's ruling party's ending in February 2023.