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Cable bridge collapses in Gujarat; at least 70 dead; PM takes stock of situation

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Ahmedabad, Oct 30: At least 70 people have died after a cable bridge collapsed on the Machchhu river in Gujarat's Morbi area on Sunday.

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    The incident occurred around 6.40 pm and it was reopened just four days ago after seven months of repair work by a private firm. However, it had not received the municipality's "fitness certificate", an official told PTI.

    Garud Commandos from Air Force were pressed into the rescue operations soon after a cable bridge collapsed in Gujarat's Morbi, according to the state information department.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already spoken to Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel over the incident on the Machchhu river in the state's Morbi on Sunday and sought "urgent mobilisation" of teams for the rescue operations.

    Cable bridge collapses in Gujarat, several feared injured

    The Prime Minister's Office said that the PM Modi has asked for close monitoring of the situation and delivery of all possible help to the affected persons. "PM @narendramodi spoke to Gujarat CM @Bhupendrapbjp and other officials regarding the mishap in Morbi. He has sought urgent mobilisation of teams for rescue ops. He has asked that the situation be closely and continuously monitored, and extend all possible help to those affected," the PMO tweeted.

    Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupender Patel said instructions have been given to the officials to arrange immediate treatment for the injured. "I am deeply saddened by the tragedy of suspension bridge collapse in Morbi. Relief and rescue operations are ongoing by the system. The system has been instructed to arrange immediate treatment for the injured. I am in constant contact with the district administration in this regard," the Chief Minister said.

    According to the information department, 30 personnel of the Indian Air Force along with two columns of Army personnel have left for the spot. "After instant orders from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, for rescue and relief operations, three platoons of NDRF with 50 personnel of Indian Navy, 108 ambulance and ambulances from nearby areas, Garud Commando from Air Force Jamnagar, 30 personnel of IAF along with two columns of Army personnel and seven teams of Fire Brigade left for Morbi with advanced equipment from Rajkot, Jamnagar, Diu and Surendranagar," the department said.

    Eyewitnesses said there were several women and children on the British era "hanging bridge" when it snapped, plunging them into the water below.

    Some people were seen jumping on the bridge and pulling its big wires, an eyewitness said. The bridge may have collapsed due to the "huge crowd" on it, he added.

    People fell over each other when the bridge collapsed, he said.

    Due to the Diwali vacation and being a Sunday, there was a rush of tourists on the bridge, a major tourist attraction.

    A private operator had carried out the repair work of the bridge for nearly six months before it was reopened to the public on the Gujarati New Year day on October 26.

    Union Home Minister Amit Shah has spoken to Gujarat Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi and other state officials. "Local administration is engaged in relief work, NDRF is also reaching the spot soon. Administration directed to provide immediate treatment to injured," Shah tweeted.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakhs from PMNRF for the next of kin of each of those who lost their lives in the mishap in Morbi. The injured would be given Rs. 50,000.

    Meanwhile, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel visited the incident site and later the hospital where the injured people are being treated.

    However, several Congress leaders attacked the BJP over the bridge collapse in Gujarat's Morbi which claimed at least 60 lives, with Randeep Surjewala terming it a "man-made tragedy" and held the state government directly responsible for it.

    With inputs from PTI

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