Gujarat, India: At Least 60 Killed After Bridge Collapses

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NEW DELHI — At least 60 people were killed after a 100-year-old bridge collapsed in the western Indian state of Gujarat on Sunday evening, officials said.

About 350 people were on and around the bridge, a major tourist attraction, at the time of the collapse, said Brijesh Merja, a minister in the Gujarat government. A majority of those who died were children, women and older people, according to officials.

The bridge collapsed four days after it was reopened to the public and seven months after renovation work.

Video broadcast by local television channels showed people swimming to a portion of the bridge suspended in the water, with more than a dozen struggling to cling to the edge as they waited to be rescued. Children and women could be heard crying for help. Rescue workers scrambled to retrieve victims from the river. The office of the district collector in Morbi, the district where the bridge collapsed, said 170 people had been rescued so far.

The collector’s office said that in addition to the national disaster response force, teams from the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force were on the way to help with the rescue, which was complicated as night had fallen and the river was dark.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is from Gujarat and is in the state for a three-day visit, announced cash compensation for the families of those killed or injured.

The bridge was particularly busy over the weekend, as the Hindu festival season drew a larger number of tourists and families to the recently reopened attraction. The Morbi district is home to thousands of factories that make ceramic tiles, bathroom products and wall clocks, and dozens of migrant factory workers were on the bridge when it collapsed.

Gujarat, which has a population of about 60 million people, is in the middle of a harshly fought election season, with a vote for the local government expected in the coming months. Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has been at the helm of the state for the past two decades, and his 12 years as chief minister in Gujarat cemented Mr. Modi’s rise to national office.

Mujib Mashal contributed reporting.


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