What we know about India’s deadly Morbi bridge collapse in Gujarat



CNN

More than 50 children are among 135 people killed in a bridge collapse on Sunday in the Indian state of Gujarat, according to a list of victims published by state authorities on Wednesday.

Investigators are investigating why the historic suspension bridge in the town of Morbi collapsed, sending dozens of people into the river below, in one of the worst public safety disasters to hit the country in recent years.

Questions have been raised about how the narrow avenue collapsed and the role of an electrical manufacturing company tasked with maintaining the colonial-era structure, which reopened to the public last week after repairs.

Here’s what we know.

It is estimated that around 200 people were on the bridge across the Machchhu River in the town of Morbi when it collapsed on October 30 around 6:30 pm local time, according to Gujarat authorities.

According to figures released on Wednesday, 54 children were among the dead. Most were under 10 years old – the youngest was a 2-year-old boy.

A 36-second video clip shared by the Morbi District Administration through CNN affiliate News-18 shows a large crowd of young men gathered on the bridge in the moments before it collapsed.

The video appears to show some of the men shaking the bridge from side to side before the structure gives way, plunging the people standing on it into the river.

Gujarat Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi said on October 31 that a cable appears to be broken.

Photos of the aftermath show people gathering on the riverbank next to the mangled metal walkway, which hung at a sharp angle to the water.

Rescue workers carry out search operations after a bridge across the Machchhu river collapsed in Morbi in India's Gujarat state on October 31, 2022.

Survivors and witnesses to the deadly incident described scenes of chaos.

“People were hanging from the bridge after the accident, but they slipped and fell into the river when it collapsed,” Raju, a witness who gave only one name, told Reuters. “I couldn’t sleep the whole night because I helped in the rescue operation. I brought a lot of children to the hospital.”

Narendrasinh Jadeja, whose friend lost seven members of his family, including four children, told Reuters: “I cannot express how angry and helpless I feel.”

Rescue personnel carry out search operations in Morbi, October 31, 2022.

The Morbi Suspension Bridge was built during British rule around 1900 and is 230 meters (755 feet) long and only 1.25 meters (4 feet) wide.

For decades, it has been a popular tourist attraction in the riverside town, whose cobblestone streets carry the architectural legacy of colonial rule.

The bridge was closed for six months of renovations in April, according to the managing director of Oreva, a Gujarat-based electrical equipment manufacturer that oversaw the maintenance.

india bridge accident screengrab

Video shows people clinging to wreckage after a deadly bridge crash

At a reopening ceremony on October 26, the managing director said to reporters The structure would not need any major work for “eight to 10 years,” according to a video of the event posted to social media.

A shoe lies near a damaged suspension bridge in Morbi, India, November 1, 2022.

A five-person special investigation committee has been set up to look into the incident, Gujarat Home Minister Sanghavi said on October 31.

Search and recovery operations by hundreds of personnel from state and national disaster relief teams and the Indian army are ongoing.

Nine people have been arrested and are being investigated for culpable homicide charges, state police said on October 31. All of the suspects are linked to Oreva.

They include two managers, two ticket clerks, two contractors and three security officers, according to senior police officer Ashok Kumar Yadav.

Since the deadly incident, public scrutiny has turned to Oreva, a company based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city.

Oreva started as a clock manufacturer before diversifying into electronics, according to its website, which describes the company as “The World’s Largest Clock Manufacturing Company” and “one of the Major Brands in India”.

CNN has reached out to Oreva several times, but has not received a response.

Mourners take part in a funeral procession carrying the coffins of victims who died after a bridge across the Machchhu river collapsed in Morbi in India's Gujarat state on October 31, 2022.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the site of the fatal collapse in Morbi on November 1.

Following an aerial survey of the area, he was seen taking stock of the ongoing rescue efforts as he stood at one end of the collapsed suspension bridge.

“He went to Morbi, and saw the horrible disaster on the bridge. Met the bereaved families and sympathized. I visited the site of the tragedy and went to the hospital where the injured are recovering,” Modi tweeted after visiting a local hospital.

The Indian leader added that he had met personnel involved in rescue operations and was chairing a review meeting.

The Prime Minister’s Office in Gujarat tweeted that Modi had “assured them of all possible assistance from the government.”

Search and recovery operations continued on Tuesday as divers scanned the area for bodies.

The families of the victims will receive compensation from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, Modi said earlier.

Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel said the state government would provide the equivalent of about $5,000 in compensation per family of the deceased and about $600 each to the injured.

The cremations of the victims are expected to begin on November 1.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the site of the deadly bridge collapse in western India on Tuesday.

World leaders have paid tribute to the victims and their families in the wake of the tragedy.

US President Joe Biden sent his condolences to those who lost loved ones during the fall.

“Today, our hearts are with India. Jill and I send our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones in the bridge collapse and join the people of Gujarat in mourning the loss of too many lives too soon,” Biden said in a statement on Monday.

“The United States and India are indispensable partners, with deep bonds between our citizens. In this difficult hour, we will continue to stand with and support the people of India. ”

Chinese President Xi Jinping also expressed his condolences to Modi, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported.

“On behalf of the Chinese government and the Chinese people, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the victims and extend our sincere condolences to their families and those who have been injured,” Xi said, according to CCTV.



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