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60 Dead, 100 Feared Trapped As India Bridge Collapse

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At least 60 people were killed on Sunday after a 100-year-old suspension bridge collapsed in India, a senior official said.

Reports earlier said the death toll could be as high as 50 or 60 with around 100 others injured, but a minister noted that 60 persons were killed.

“Sixty people have died. More than 80 have been rescued,” Brijesh Merja, a minister in the state government of Gujarat where the disaster happened, told AFP.

Authorities said nearly 500 people including women and children were gathered on and around the bridge when the cables supporting it snapped, bringing down the entire structure into the river.

The bridge is located in Morbi around 200 kilometres (120 miles) west of Gujarat’s main city, Ahmedabad.

Local media quoted officials as saying that those on the bridge were performing rituals for a major religious festival when it gave way into the Machchhu river.

The Press Trust of India reported the death toll as being at least 32, citing local health officials.

Reports said that more than 100 people were still missing in the river, showing videos – which could not be independently verified – of people clinging to the remains of the structure in the dark.

The British-era suspension bridge was only reopened to the public on Wednesday, after seven months of repairs.

Authorities launched a rescue operation following the collapse, with divers deployed to search for missing people.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was touring his home state of Gujarat, announced compensation for those killed and injured in the accident.

Modi “sought urgent mobilisation of teams for rescue (operations)”, his office tweeted.

“He has asked that the situation be closely and continuously monitored, and (for authorities to) extend all possible help to those affected.”

Accidents from old and poorly maintained infrastructure including bridges are common in India.

In 2016 the collapse of a flyover onto a busy street in the eastern city of Kolkata killed at least 26 people. Rescue workers pulled out nearly 100 people injured from under huge concrete slabs and metal.

In 2011 at least 32 people are killed when a bridge packed with festival crowds collapsed in northeast India, about 20 miles (30 kilometres) from the hill town of Darjeeling.

Less than a week later around 30 people were killed when a footbridge over a river in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh collapsed.

In 2006 at least 34 people were killed when a 150-year-old bridge collapsed on a passenger train in the railway station in the eastern state of Bihar.

AFP

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