Indian police arrest nine in connection with deadly bridge collapse

© Sam Pathanky, AFP

Nine people were arrested Monday in connection with the collapse of a pedestrian bridge in western India that killed at least 137 people, police said.

The nine – all associated with a company that maintained the bridge in Morbi -- were being investigated for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, senior police officer Ashok Kumar Yadav said in a statement.

The bridge, which had reopened days earlier after months of renovation, collapsed on Sunday evening, sending hundreds tumbling into the river in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat.

Authorities said nearly 500 people were celebrating the last day of the Diwali festival on and around the nearly 150-year-old suspension bridge when supporting cables snapped.

CCTV footage showed the structure swaying – with a few people apparently deliberately rocking it – before it suddenly gave way.

The walkway and one fence crashed into the Machchhu river, leaving the other side dangling in mid-air as people fell into the water in the dark.

"I saw the bridge collapse before my eyes," said one witness who worked all night on rescue efforts, without giving his name.

"It was traumatic when a woman showed me a photo of her daughter and asked if I had rescued her. I could not tell her that her daughter had died."

Supran, another witness, said the bridge, which was a popular tourist attraction, was "jam-packed".

"The cables snapped and the bridge came down in a split second. People fell on each other and into the river," he told local media.

After the collapse, people clung to the twisted remains of the bridge or tried to swim to safety in the dark.


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