30 (EUROPE PRESS)
At least 91 people have died and a hundred more are missing after a suspension bridge collapsed over a river in the Indian state of Gujarat, in the west of the country, according to the latest balance.
According to eyewitnesses, some 500 people, including women and children, were crossing the bridge amid the collapse.
The Morbi Suspension Bridge, over the Machchhu River, was a historic structure from the British colonial era that was restored and reopened to the public just four days ago for the Gujarati New Year celebration.
The state Minister for Employment, Housing and Development, Rusal Brijesh Merja, explained that “it had been inaugurated last week”. “We are also shocked. The Government assumes responsibility for this tragedy,” he stressed in statements to the NDTV network.
Merja has confirmed the arrival of three platoons of rescue forces, 50 Indian Navy personnel as well as two columns of Army personnel and seven Fire Brigade teams from Rajkot, Jamnagar and Diu.
The deputy for the town of Rajkot, Mohan Kundariya, estimates the number of wounded around a hundred, although this figure could not be verified.
According to the same sources, dozens of people would have been submerged and several could still be trapped under the rubble. Rescue efforts have been hampered by nightfall.
For now, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, has announced aid to the relatives of the deceased and ordered a special rescue deployment to assist those affected by the tragedy, in an area that is difficult to access by road.
The National Relief Fund under the office of the prime minister has announced the granting of 20,000 rupees (about 244 euros) in aid for the families of the victims.
The opposition has blamed the ruling party, Bharatiya Hanata (BJP), for this accident, they have requested an investigation commission and have assured that the bridge did not have the necessary municipal authorization for its reopening.