Morbi Bridge Tragedy: Two Held, PM Modi To Visit Accident Spot On Tuesday
The bridge called Julto Pul, collapsed on Sunday evening, killing at least 133 people.
Two people were being held and questioned, the Morbi superintendent of police said on Monday even as the death toll from the Morbi bridge collapse rose to 133. Julto pul, the colonial-era bridge, collapsed four days after it was opened for renovation.
The police filed an FIR against the renovators. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who expressed his sadness over the event, said he will visit the site of the accident on Tuesday.
At least 200 people were rescued by teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Army, Navy, Air Force and the local fire brigade. At least 19 people were said to be undergoing treatment for injuries on Monday morning. Locals joined the rescue operations effort along with the official teams that were sent to the spot.
Visuals tweeted by ANI showed teams of rescuers present at the location.
The British-era suspension bridge snapped, plunging hundreds into the Machchu river on Sunday, only four days after it was reopened for renovation work. A popular tourist sport, hundreds had reportedly gathered on the bridge as it was the first weekend after it was reopened.
Eyewitnesses to the incident said people hung from the cables as they snapped, slipping into the river. A tea seller told ANI, "I sell tea there every Sunday. People were hanging from cables and then slipped down. I didn't sleep and helped people entire night. It was heart-wrenching to see a 7-8-month-pregnant woman die. Never saw anything like that in my life."
Videos doing the rounds of social media showed people clinging on to the bridge that had snapped and twisted and was half submerged in water.
How has the government reacted?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the families of those who died in the incident and Rs 50,000 for those who were injured.
Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel held a review meeting over the accident at the Morbi Collectorate with officials of various departments. The chief minister, along with state home minister Harsh Sanghavi, reached the accident spot last night and reviewed the rescue operations.
Patel and Modi said they were constantly in touch with each other and taking stock of the rescue operations being carried out.
An FIR was filed on Monday against the agencies that had taken up the maintenance work of the bridge. ANI reported that Morbi B Division Police Inspector Prakashbhai Dekavadiya filed the complaint. The agencies are being accused of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, attempt to commit culpable homicide and abettor present when the offence is committed, under the Indian Penal Code.
What's happening with rescue ops?
Boats, ambulances and rescue personnel were used to carry out the efforts. Chief fire officer of Rajkot, Ilesh Kher, told ANI, "Rajkot Fire Brigade deployed 6 boats, 6 ambulances, two rescue vans and 60 jawans. A total of 20 rescue boats from Baroda, Ahmedabad, Gondal, Jamnagar, and Kutch are working.Twelve fire tenders, rescue vans and over 15 ambulances are here."
What are the maintenance agencies being accused of?
Authorities in Gujarat have said that the agency that was given the tender to conduct maintenance work on the bridge did not have permission to open it to the public.
Sandipsinh Zala, chief of Morbi municipality, told NDTV, "It was a government tender. Oreva group was supposed to give its renovation details and get a quality check before opening the bridge. But it did not do so. The government was not aware about this."
However, the government has not said how Oreva was able to throw open the bridge to the public before prior permission from the local authorities.
The bridge had been shut for seven months for renovation, reported NDTV.
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