Death toll in Morbi bridge collapse reaches 141: Police official

Death toll in Morbi bridge collapse reaches 141: Police official

Morbi (Gujarat), October 31, 2022

The death toll due to the collapse of a suspension bridge over the Machu river in Morbi district of Gujarat on Sunday evening has increased to 141 as of Monday morning, a top police official confirmed.

The toll was confirmed to the media by Rajkot Range Inspector General of Police Ashok Yadav.

However, the toll according to the Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi is 132, while two persons remain unaccounted for.

He also said that when the two missing persons are located, the search and rescue operations will be over.

As of Monday morning, the Morbi government hospital has released a list of 99 deceased, but has not mentioned the age of the victims.

The tragedy took place on Sunday evening when about 400 people were on the bridge.

A criminal complaint against the cable bridge contractor and manager has been lodged while the police have started a probe into the incident.

Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, who has cancelled all his programmes and rushed to Morbi to personally monitor rescue and relief operations, announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the next-of-kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 financial help to those injured in the accident.

Patel is likely to camp in Morbi till the rescue operations are over.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the next of-kin of the dead from the PM's National Relief Fund, and Rs 50,000 for each of the injured.

According to a tweet by the Prime Minister's office, "PM @narendramodi spoke to Gujarat CM @Bhupendrapbjp and other officials regarding the mishap in Morbi. He has sought urgent mobilisation of teams for rescue ops. He has asked that the situation be closely and continuously monitored, and extend all possible help to those affected".

On the state government's request, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has deployed one NDRF team from Rajkot, while Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has instructed the Army rescue teams to rush to Morbi.

A total of seven fire brigade teams were pressed into service for the rescue operations, and one State Disaster Response Force team and two NDRF teams from Gandhinagar have rushed to the spot. Local authorities have started a helpline number - 02822-243300 - on which people can seek help and information about their missing relatives.

Meanwhile, the Morbi Municipal Committee's Chief Executive Officer S. V. Zala, in a shocking revelation, said that the bridge was opened for the public after renovation without a fitness certificate from the civic body.

Zala, addressing the local media, said: "For a long period, this bridge was closed for the public... seven months ago, a private company was given contract for renovation and maintenance, and the bridge was reopened for the public on October 26 (Gujarati New year day) by the private company. The Nagar Palika has not issued a fitness certificate."

He even claimed that it is possible that the company might have got a fitness certificate from the engineering company, but it was not submitted to the municipality till date. The company, on its own and without informing the civic body, reopened the bridge for the public, he alleged.

Former Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel also told the media that normally when bridges are constructed or renovated, before opening it for public, technical assessment is must, and load bearing capacity is tested and only after this is a usage certificate issued by the authority concerned and the bridges can only then be opened for the public.

This hanging bridge was constructed by the erstwhile Morbi ruler Sir Vaghaji Thakor some 150 years ago, and its length was 233 metres and it was 4.6 feet wide.

IANS

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