AHMEDABAD, Oct 30 (Reuters) – At least 40 died after hundreds of people fell into a river after a pedestrian bridge collapsed in the western Indian state of Gujarat.
More than 400 people were on the suspension bridge over the Machu River in the town of Morbi when it collapsed, according to local TV station Zee News.
Television footage showed dozens of people clinging to cables, the twisting remains of a collapsed bridge, and emergency teams scrambling to rescue them. Some tried to climb to the river bank, others swam to safety.
“At least 40 people have been killed and 30 injured so far,” said Morbi minister and parliamentarian Brijesh Merja. “There may be more casualties as rescue operations are ongoing.”
The 230-meter historic bridge was built during the British rule in the 19th century. After being closed for six months for renovations, it opened to the public last week.
Officials said most of the victims were locals who had been visiting the bridge for recreational purposes.
Morbi is one of the world’s largest ceramic manufacturing clusters, accounting for over 80% of India’s ceramic production.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in his home state of Gujarat for a three-day visit, said he had instructed state chiefs to urgently mobilize teams for rescue operations.
The incident comes ahead of elections in Gujarat, which are expected to be held by the end of the year in Modi’s ruling party’s current term ending in February 2023.
Additional reporting and writing by Rupam Jain.Edited by John Stonestreet and Angus Maxwan
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