Gujarat: Arrests made after 134 die in India bridge collapse

Police have so far arrested nine people and launched an investigation into the company which carried out the renovation, as Sejal Karia reports

Nine people have been arrested after at least 134 people have died after a century-old cable suspension bridge collapsed into a river in India on Sunday.

Military teams were searching on Monday for missing people after the collapse in Gujarat, which sent hundreds plunging into the water in one of the worst accidents in the country in the past decade.

At least 177 survivors were pulled from the river and teams from the army, navy and air force were looking for others still missing, said Jigar Khunt, an information department official in Gujarat said.

People pay tribute to victims. Credit: AP

State minister Harsh Sanghvi said emergency responders and rescuers worked overnight to search for the survivors.

Most of the victims were teens, women and older people, he said. It was not immediately clear exactly how many people were on the bridge when it collapsed but survivors said it was so densely packed that the crowd was unable to move to safety when the cable strings began to snap.

Search and rescue work is going on as a cable suspension bridge collapsed killing at least 133 people. Credit: AP

“There were just too many people on the bridge. We could barely move,” Sidik Bai, 27, said while recovering from injuries in a hospital bed in Morbi.

Sidik jumped into the water once the bridge began to crack and witnessed his friend being crushed by a metal walkway.

The 27-year-old survived by clinging to the bridge's cables, but his friend did not make it.

“Everyone was crying for help, but one by one they all began disappearing in the water,” Sidik said.

As families mourned the dead, attention turned to why the pedestrian bridge, built during British colonialism in the late 1800s and touted by the state's tourism website as an “artistic and technological marvel,” collapsed and who might be responsible.

The bridge had reopened just four days earlier.

Police, who have vowed the guilty will not get away, have so far arrested nine people and launched an investigation into the company which carried out the renovation.

Emergency services are tending to those injured in the incident

The incident comes just days after the 19th-century, colonial-era bridge was reopened to the public following renovation.

Officials told PTI the bridge gave way as it could not handle the number of people on it.

Rescuers on boats search in the Machchu river next to the cable bridge. Credit: AP

Footage posted on social media showed people clinging onto the partly submerged bridge in distress, while others captured survivors swimming to safety.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in his home state of Gujarat on a visit, said he was “deeply saddened by the tragedy.”

His office announced compensation to the families of the dead and urged for speedy rescue efforts.