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Shallow water, rocky bottom may have led to so many deaths in Morbi tragedy

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New Delhi, Nov 02: The river under the Morbi suspension bridge that collapsed and claimed over 135 lives has rocky riverbed and the water in the river too is quite shallow too -- two possible reasons why the casualties in the tragedy were so high, according to an official.

Shallow water, rocky bottom may have led to so many deaths in Morbi tragedy

The chief of India's disaster response force has said that the water is shallow on both the ends of the bridge and the people hit the rocky bottom after falling into the river, according to a report in NDTV. The river is about 10 feet deep or the length of a small car, Commandant of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) VVN Prasanna Kumar, told the channel and the bottom of the river is full of rocks which possible resulted in so many deaths and injuries.

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The middle part is about 20-feet deep and navy divers, who have been searching for the bodies, could reach the bottom effortlessly, he added. "We have been using an ultramodern remote underwater vehicle fitted with a camera and a sonar device to locate bodies," the channel quoted him as saying.

The bridge was originally built in 1877 and had been closed for six months for repairs until last week. Police in India arrested nine people on Monday on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Those arrested included ticketing clerks accused of letting too many people onto the bridge and contractors who were in charge of repair work.

The contractors who carried out repairs of the ill-fated suspension bridge at Morbi in Gujarat were not qualified to carry out such jobs, the prosecution told a court here on Tuesday. While the flooring of the bridge was replaced, its cable was not replaced and it could not take the weight of the changed flooring, said the prosecution, citing a forensic report.

Meanwhile, Prime minister Narendra Modi visited the collapse site and the local hospital where the injured have been admitted. He also chaired a high-level meeting at Morbi to review the situation, the Prime Minister's Office said in a release. "The need of the hour is to conduct a detailed and extensive inquiry which will identify all aspects relating to this mishap," PM Modi said.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called for a "detailed and extensive" inquiry into the Morbi bridge collapse tragedy and said its key learnings must be implemented at the earliest.

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