Over 130 people died in cable bridge collapse in India’s Gujarat state

India’s Gujarat state government has launched a criminal investigation into the agency responsible for maintaining a historic cable bridge after the popular attraction collapsed under the weight of hundreds of visitors on Sunday, killing more than 130 people.

Harsh Sanghavi, the state’s interior minister, told reporters that an investigation under criminal manslaughter provisions had been opened into the local company responsible for maintaining the century-old bridge. The bridge, which was built in the late 19th century, reopened to the public last week after being closed for months for repairs.

Mr. Sanghvi did not name the company in question. Several Indian news outlets reported that a local industrial company known as Oreva was in charge of its maintenance and repairs. Calls to the company were not answered on Monday, and it did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

Rescue operations continued through the night, with 170 people pulled from the waters of the Machchhu River which the bridge in Morbi district spanned, the national disaster management agency said.

Videos shared by TV stations and on social media showed people in the water clinging to parts of the collapsed bridge and trying to climb out. Other videos showed the bridge crowded with people – some of whom appeared to be vigorously shaking the bridge – swaying when people walked on it.

The death toll could continue to rise after a suspension bridge collapsed in the Indian state of Gujarat, killing more than 130 people. The popular tourist attraction was packed as hundreds of people visited the area to celebrate the holidays, including Diwali. Photo: AP Photo/Ajit Solanki

Tushar Daftary, a local member of the community service group Lions Clubs International, who was among those helping with the rescue operations last night, said many people were visiting family in the area due to a series of holidays last week including Diwali and Gujarati. New Year. This meant more people than usual visited the bridge over the weekend, according to Mr Daftary.

A local report said some visitors had expressed concerns to ticket agents about the crowded bridge, as well as some people in the crowd shaking it.

The state said it would award the equivalent of nearly $4,900 to the families of those who died in the disaster, as well as compensation for the injured. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who ruled the state for more than a decade, where he cemented his political rise, also unveiled compensation for the victims of the tragedy. He also expressed his sadness over the disaster.

The tragedy has cast a shadow over Mr Modi’s three-day visit to the state which began on Sunday, which aims to present development projects ahead of elections due to be held later this year. The Prime Minister has led a new campaign to attract more factories to India and create more jobs. In the hours before the bridge collapsed, Mr Modi presided over the start of construction of an aircraft manufacturing plant in the state in partnership with Europe’s Airbus SE, hailing it as a step forward. forward towards the country’s goal of becoming a global manufacturing hub.

But India’s efforts to attract more manufacturing and create more jobs have often been met with worries about the country’s dilapidated infrastructure and security lapses, a concern set to be compounded by Sunday’s disaster. .

Write to Krishna Pokharel at krishna.pokharel@wsj.com and Tripti Lahiri at tripti.lahiri@wsj.com

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