Gujarat: 77 dead, scores missing as suspension bridge over Machu river in Morbi collapses
IANS

Gujarat: 77 dead, scores missing as suspension bridge over Machu river in Morbi collapses

Morbi (Gujarat), October 30, 2022

At least 77 people, including women and children, were killed and scores were missing as the suspension bridge over the Machhu river in Morbi district of Gujarat collapsed on Sunday evening, officials said.

Many bodies had been fished out from the Machhu river and sent for for post-mortem examinations at the Morbi government hospital while Morbi MLA and Minister of State for Panchayat Brajesh Merja confirmed the number of deaths.

Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, who has cancelled all his programmes and rushed to Morbi to personally monitor rescue and relief operations, announced a compension of Rs 4 lakh to the next-of-kinof 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 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.

The rescue operation is likely to be carried out the entire night, as locals fear that children's bodies have been wept away due to the water flow in the Machhu river.

Local authorities' apprehension is that the bridge has collapsed right in the middle of the river, where the water level is 15 to 20 feet deep, and due to this the death toll is likely to rise.

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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