At least ‘81 people dead’ after bridge collapses in India

At least 81 people have died after a suspension bridge collapsed in India, officials have said.

Authorities said more than 150 people were on the suspension bridge over the Machhu River in the town of Morbi at the time of the collapse.

TV footage showed dozens of people clinging onto the cables and twisted remains of the collapsed bridge as emergency teams struggled to rescue them. Some clambered up the broken structure to try to make their way to the river banks, while others swam to safety.

“Sixty deaths have been confirmed so far,” member of parliament Mohan Kundariya said earlier in the evening.

State Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi said more than 150 people were on the narrow cable-stayed bridge, a tourist attraction that drew many sight-seers during the festive season, when Diwali and Chhath Puja are celebrated.

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

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

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 for the public last week.

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