At least 60 people were killed in India Sunday when a bridge collapsed in the western state of Gujarat, causing hundreds of people to fall into the water, officials said.
The bridge in the town of Morbi had been recently renovated and the government would investigate how and why the incident occurred, said the Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Employment of Gujrat, Brijesh Merja. The current focus was on search and rescue operations, he added.
Speaking to NDTV in an on-camera interview from the site of the tragedy, he said at least 17 people were being treated in the hospital. Children were among those killed, MP Mohanbhai Kalyanji Kundariya told NDTV.
Personnel from India’s army, navy and air force are assisting in search and rescue operations according to the Chief Minister of India’s Gujarat state, Bhupendra Patel.
Patel said the armed forces would be assisting the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF).
Gujarat state minister Merja said three platoons of the NDRF, 50 Navy personnel, 30 Air Force personnel, two columns of army personnel and seven fire brigade teams from Rajkot, Jamnagar and Diu were deployed for rescue and relief efforts. He also said an isolation ward has been set up at Rajkot civil hospital for treatment.
The families of the victims will receive money from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, according to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi tweeted saying he is “deeply saddened” by the tragedy at Morbi, saying rescue and relief operations are ongoing.
Gujarat Chief Minister Patel said he was heading to Morbi and canceling all his pre-planned events for the day.
“I express my condolences to the families of the citizens who lost their lives in the tragedy. The state government will provide Rs 4 lakhs to the family of each deceased & Rs 50,000 to the injured,” Patel tweeted.
TV footage showed dozens of people holding the cables and remains of the bridge as emergency teams tried to reach them, Reuters reported. Some climbed up the wrecked structure to reach the river banks, while others swam to safety.
More than 150 people were on the bridge, which is a tourist attraction, at the time of the disaster, State Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi said. The 230-meter bridge was built in the 19th century, and only reopened to the public last week after renovation work.