Children among at least 132 dead in India bridge collapse

At least 132 people are now dead after a suspension bridge collapsed in India’s western state of Gujarat, according to the state’s home minister Harsh Sanghavi.

The incident took place Sunday evening at around 6:30 p.m. local time in the town of Morbi.

Some 200 people are estimated to have been on the bridge when it collapsed into the river below, Sanghavi said, adding a cable at one end appears to have snapped.

The state of Gujarat has lodged a criminal complaint against the agency that was handling the maintenance of the bridge. A special investigation committee has been established to investigate the incident, Sanghavi said.

Personnel from India’s army, navy and air force are assisting in search and rescue operations according to the Chief Minister of India’s Gujarat state, Bhupendra Patel.

Patel said the armed forces would be assisting the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF).

A view shows a damaged part of the suspension bridge in Morbi.

Gujarat state minister Merja said three platoons of the NDRF, 50 Navy personnel, 30 Air Force personnel, two columns of army personnel and seven fire brigade teams from Rajkot, Jamnagar and Diu were deployed for rescue and relief efforts. He also said an isolation ward has been set up at Rajkot civil hospital for treatment.

The families of the victims will receive money from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, according to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi tweeted saying he is “deeply saddened” by the tragedy at Morbi, saying rescue and relief operations are ongoing.

Gujarat Chief Minister Patel said he was heading to Morbi and canceling all his pre-planned events for the day.

“I express my condolences to the families of the citizens who lost their lives in the tragedy. The state government will provide Rs 4 lakhs to the family of each deceased & Rs 50,000 to the injured,” Patel tweeted.

TV footage showed dozens of people holding the cables and remains of the bridge as emergency teams tried to reach them, Reuters reported. Some climbed up the wrecked structure to reach the river banks, while others swam to safety.

The 230-meter bridge was built in the 19th century, and only reopened to the public last week after renovation work.