PM Modi Visits Morbi Accident Site As Rescue Ops Continue
The prime minister also visited the hospital where the injured are admitted. The death toll stands at 135.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Morbi bridge collapse site in Gujarat on Tuesday, after which he also visited the civil hospital in Morbi where the injured are admitted. The death toll from the Morbi bridge collapse on Sunday evening rose to 135 on Tuesday as rescue operations were resumed in the morning.
After his visit, the prime minister took to Twitter and said, "Went to Morbi, which witnessed the horrific bridge mishap. Met the bereaved families and extended condolences. I visited the site of the tragedy and went to the hospital where the injured are recovering. Also met those involved in rescue ops and chaired a review meeting."
The bridge, which was shut for renovation for seven months, had been opened just five days earlier. Sunday saw massive crowds gathering on the bridge, which ultimately snapped killing over 100 people and injuring several others.
Death toll at 135
The death toll rose to 135 as one person who was injured succumbed to their injuries. ANI reported that 14 people were in the hospital, while one person was still reported to be missing.
Teams of the Indian Coast Guard, along with local administrative officials were deployed in Morbi to continue search operations on Tuesday.
Teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Indian Army, Navy, the fire brigade in Morbi had been deployed since Sunday evening to carry out rescue operations. VVN Prasanna Kumar, NDRF Commandant, told ANI that it is suspected that there could be bodies at the bottom of the river. "We're expecting the dead bodies of 2 people & are conducting a thorough search. Divers are conducting searches deep into the river. 12 boats along with a team of 125 people deployed at the spot," Kumar was quoted by ANI as saying.
Prime Minister Modi chaired a high-level meeting in Gandhinagar on Monday night to take stock of the situation. State home minister Harsh Sanghavi said in a tweet, "He discussed and took a brief of every small thing about incident and relief work."
The prime minister will visit the location and also the hospital where the injured are admitted.
The Congress criticised the Gujarat government alleging that the hospital where the injured were admitted was being given a hasty makeover ahead of the prime minister's visit. The Congress tweeted photos saying, "Tomorrow PM Modi will visit the civil hospital in Morbi. Before that, the hospital is being painted and glazed tiles are being installed." The Congress claimed that this was being done to create a photo opportunity for the prime minister.
The AAP said, "Had the BJP worked in 27 years, there would have been no need to spruce up the hospital at midnight."
Gujarat declared two days of state mourning in light of the tragedy. Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel said, "The national flag will be flown at half-mast on government buildings in the state on November 2 and no government public functions, receptions or entertainment programs will be held."
On Sunday, the government at the Centre had also declared an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those who were injured.
What led to the collapse of the bridge?
Oreva, a clockmaker that was given the tender for the renovation of the bridge, is being blamed for the mishap. Nine people from the company were arrested and so were ticket clerks at the bridge. Called Julto Pul, the bridge is a popular destination for the people in the region.
Rajkot range inspector general of police, Ashok Yadav, said on Monday night, "Among the nine people arrested there are two managers of Oreva company, two ticket clerks along with two contractors and three security guards for negligence."
While the administration in Morbi had said on Monday that the renovators had not gotten permission from them to reopen the bridge, the Gujarat government said that they did not have a role to play in the renovation work.
"Renovation and opening of the bridge was done by Morbi administration. Gujarat government didn't have any role in it, direct or indirect. The old bridge was small and made for private use, but was opened to the public for tourist movement," Gujarat deputy chief minister Nitin Patel told ANI.
Meanwhile, a PIL was filed in the Supreme Court seeking a judicial inquiry into the incident, by a commission headed by a retired judge from the apex court.
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