Some 177 people have been rescued and 19 people are receiving medical treatment as search operations continue overnight, officials said.
The death toll following the collapse of a colonial-era suspension bridge in the western Indian state of Gujarat has risen to 132, officials say, as rescuers worked all day. at night, combing the Machhu River in search of survivors.
Harsh Sanghavi, Gujarat’s interior minister, told reporters the death toll rose from 68 on Sunday to 132 early Monday as search operations continued.
Gujarat’s information department said around 177 people had now been rescued, while 19 were receiving medical treatment.
The bridge in Morbi, a town about 200 km (120 miles) west of Gujarat’s main city, Ahmedabad, was built during British colonial rule in the 19th century and had been closed for renovation for nearly six months before being reopened to the public last week.
Hundreds of tourists celebrating Diwali and Chhath Puja holidays, were on the 230-meter (755ft) bridge when it collapsed sundayaccording to local media.
Television footage showed dozens of people clinging to cables and twisted remains of the bridge as emergency crews struggled to save them.
Some scaled the broken structure in an attempt to make their way to the river banks, while others swam to safety. Several children were among the victims.
Prateek Vasava, who swam to shore after falling from the bridge, told Gujarati-language news channel 24 Hours that he saw several children fall into the river.
“I wanted to take a few with me, but they drowned or were swept away,” he said.
The bridge collapsed within seconds, he said.
Another witness, whose name was Sukram, told Reuters news agency that the bridge collapsed because it could not support the weight of so many people.
“Many children were enjoying the Diwali holiday and they came here as tourists. All fell on top of each other. The bridge collapsed due to overloading,” he said.
The Gujarat government said an investigation was underway into the cause of the disaster.
He said more than 200 rescue workers had been mobilized for the search and rescue operation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Gujarat, his home state, for a three-day visit, announced a payout of 200,000 Indian rupees ($2,428) to the families of the dead.
The injured will receive 50,000 Indian rupees ($607), he said in a tweet.
Armenia, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates and others sent their condolences for the tragedy.
The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its “deep sadness” and “its condolences for the victims and our deepest sympathy to their families and to all [Indian] people at this tragic moment.
Deep sadness from Italy 🇮🇹 for the collapse of the bridge over the Machchhu river in India. We express our condolences to the victims and our deepest sympathy to their families and to all people 🇮🇳 at this tragic time. pic.twitter.com/R5QivmzGrz
— MAE Italy (@ItalyMFA_int) October 30, 2022
The United Arab Emirates said they were “in solidarity with India”, while Sri Lanka said it was “shocked and upset by the tragic accident in Morbi”.
Shocked and saddened by the tragic accident in Morbi, Gujarat, with the collapse of the bridge. The government and people of #Sri Lanka Please join me in extending my deepest condolences to the government. & the people of #India, especially the families of citizens who lost their lives. (1/2)
— PMD (@PMDNewsGov) October 31, 2022