WORLD Searches called off in India's Gujarat days after bridge collapse kills 135


Searches called off in India's Gujarat days after bridge collapse kills 135


13:58, November 04, 2022

NEW DELHI, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- Rescuers in India's western state of Gujarat have called off search operations recovering the bodies in the Machchu River five days after a century-old British-era pedestrian suspension bridge collapsed, killing 135 people, local media reported Friday.

Rescuers on boats search in the Machchhu river after a cable bridge collapsed in Morbi district of India's western state of Gujarat, Oct. 31, 2022. Death toll in a pedestrian bridge collapse in the western Indian state of Gujarat Monday rose to 132, local media reports quoted officials as saying. (Photo: Xinhua)

The searches stopped Thursday night as no more victims were reported missing in the tragedy, said reports citing officials.

A total of over 100 people were injured in the incident and 177 people were rescued.

"After verifying the information brought to the district administration, there is nobody else who is missing, and no chance of recovering any more bodies. Taking that into factor and after discussions with state and central agencies, we have called off rescue operations," Gujarat commissioner of relief Harshad Patel was quoted as saying.

The search and rescue operations were launched on Sunday evening after the bridge collapsed, plunging hundreds of people on it into the Machchhu River in Morbi town about 241 km west of Gandhinagar, the capital city of Gujarat.

Following the bridge collapse, multiple agencies including State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the fire brigade, the Indian Navy, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army joined the search and rescue operations.

On Wednesday Gujarat observed a state-wide mourning over the 135 lives lost in the incident.

Nine people were arrested in connection with the tragedy.

The collapsed bridge was a popular tourist attraction in the area. It had been shut for renovation for seven months before being reopened to the public on Oct. 26, the Gujarati New Year.

Reports said around 500 people, much beyond the bridge's capacity, were on the suspension bridge at the time it crashed into the river below.

Municipality officials have told local media the bridge may have been reopened without a "fitness certificate".

Oreva Group, a Gujarat-based watchmaker, carried out the repairs of the bridge. The company has been accused of violating multiple safety rules, leading to the huge tragedy that occurred just four days after the bridge was reopened to the public.

The deadly collapse came weeks ahead of local elections in the state.

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