The death of 135 people in the collapse of a cable suspension bridge in the western Indian state of Gujarat is one of the worst public safety tragedies to hit the country in recent times. years.
As authorities investigate the incident, questions have been raised about how the narrow walkway collapsed and the role of an electrical manufacturing company in maintaining the then-structure Colonial, which only reopened to the public last week after repairs.
Here’s what we know.
It is estimated that around 200 people were on the bridge crossing the Machchhu river in the town of Morbi when it collapsed in the water below on October 30 at around 6.30pm local time, according to Gujarat authorities.
At least 30 children were among the 135 killed, officials said. It is not known how many people are still missing and authorities have not released a figure for the injured.
Video shows moment of fatal bridge collapse in India
A 36-second video clip shared by the Morbi District Administration via 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 rocking the bridge from side to side before the structure gave way, plunging those standing on it into the river.
Gujarat Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi said on October 31 that a cable seems to have broken.
Photos from the aftermath show people gathering on the shore next to the mangled metal footbridge, which dangled at a sharp angle into the water.
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 all night because I had taken part in the rescue operation. I brought many children to the hospital.
Narendrasinh Jadeja, whose friend lost seven family members, including four children, told Reuters: “I cannot express how angry and helpless I feel.”
The Morbi Suspension Bridge was built during British rule around 1900 and is 230 meters (755 feet) long and just 1.25 meters (4 feet) wide.
For decades, it’s been a popular tourist attraction in the riverside town, whose cobbled streets bear 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 appliance maker who oversaw the maintenance work.
At a reopening ceremony on October 26, the general manager told reporters the structure wouldn’t need major work for “eight to 10 years,” according to a video of the event posted on social media.
A five-person special investigation committee has been set up to investigate the incident, Gujarat Interior Minister Sanghavi said on October 31.
Search and recovery operations by hundreds of personnel from National and National Disaster Relief Teams and the Indian Army continue.
Nine people have been arrested and are being investigated for intentional homicide, state police said Oct. 31. All suspects are associated with Oreva.
They include two managers, two ticket clerks, two contractors and three security guards, according to senior police officer Ashok Kumar Yadav.
Since the fatal incident, public attention has turned to Oreva, a company based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city.
Oreva started as a watchmaker before branching out into electronics, according to its website, which describes the company as the “world’s largest clock manufacturing company” and “one of the leading brands in India.”
CNN contacted Oreva several times, but did not receive a response.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the scene of the fatal Morbi collapse on November 1.
Following an aerial survey of the area, he was seen giving an update on ongoing rescue efforts as he stood at one end of the collapsed suspension bridge.
“I went to Morbi, which witnessed the horrible bridge accident. Meeting with bereaved families and presentation of condolences. 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 with personnel involved in the rescue operations and chaired a review meeting.
Gujarat’s chief minister’s office tweeted that Modi had “assured them of all possible help from the government”.
Search and recovery operations continued on Tuesday as divers scanned the area for bodies.
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 around $5,000 in compensation per family of the deceased and around $600 each for the injured.
The cremations of the victims are scheduled to begin on November 1.
World leaders paid tribute to the victims and their families following the tragedy.
US President Joe Biden sent his condolences to those who lost loved ones in the collapse.
“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 cut short,” Biden said in a statement Monday.
“The United States and India are indispensable partners, with deep ties between our citizens. In this difficult hour, we will continue to support and support the people of India. »
Chinese President Xi Jinping also expressed sympathy for Modi, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported.
“On behalf of the Chinese government and the Chinese people, I would like to express our deep condolences to the victims and express our sincere sympathy to their families and the injured,” Xi said, according to CCTV.