The Gujarat Information Department said more than 130 deaths had been reported till the early morning after the collapse of a nearly century-old suspension bridge into the Machchhu river in Gujarat’s Morbi city.
Eyewitnesses’ accounts painted a heart-wrenching picture of the tragedy of the collapse of the suspension bridge in Gujarat’s Morbi city on Sunday, which claimed over 130 lives including that of women and children.
Locals recount how they carried the injured, some of them lifeless bodies of children in their arms, clutching onto a vague hope that they will somehow make it.
A tea seller in the vicinity who watched with horror the recently renovated 140-year-old suspension bridge collapse said that people were hanging on to the Julto Pul, as the bridge is commonly known, went down.
He said, “Everything happened within seconds. I saw people hanging on to the bridge and later falling into the water as their grip loosened and they slipped into the water. It was really heartwrenching. A 7-month pregnant woman also died in the bridge collapse. It shattered me to the core”.
The man who sells tea every Sunday near the bridge broke down repeatedly as he recounted the horror.
Tea vendor said as tears filled his eyes, “There were just people dying everywhere. I tried helping as much as I can. Took people to the hospital. I have never seen anything like this. There was this small kid. We tried rescuing her. She spat out a lot of water and we were really happy that she would survive, however she soon took her last breath in front of me as we rushed her to the hospital. I was shaken”.
A local woman named Hasina Bhen choked up as she narrated the dreadful incident.
“I never realized when the morning dawned. My family and I was involved in rushing people to the hospital for the whole night. I have given both my vehicles to people to ferry the injured to hospitals. I have two sons and a daughter and both my sons have been just helping out people and are continuing even now. It really shook me when I carried dead children with my own hands as I thought of taking them to the hospital. But they had nothing left in them. It broke me. I can’t even speak about it…..”
Others narrated how they attempted to rescue those, including children who were seen clinging on to the bridge but they had to stare helplessly as they fell into the river and either drowned or got swept away. Some able-bodied people were seen climbing up back the broken bridge, part of which was touching the water.
According to the latest reports, the death toll in the mishap had gone up to 132 on Monday morning. Gujarat Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi said that a criminal case has been registered in connection with the incident.
Sanghavi said, “An investigation has begun today under the leadership of Range IGP,” Sanghavi said. Everyone worked all through the night. The Navy, NDRF (National Disaster Relief Force), Air Force and Army arrived at the spot quickly. More than 200 persons have worked the entire night for search and rescue operations”.
According to officials, Army, Navy, Air Force, NDRF, and Fire Brigade teams conducted a search operation throughout the night to rescue people who had fallen into the Macchu river after the bridge collapsed.
After the incident, Chief Minister Bhupendrabhai Patel, Minister of State for Home Affairs Harshbhai Sanghvi, Minister Brijeshbhai Merja, and Minister of State Shri Arvindbhai Raiyani reached the incident spot at midnight and personally observed the rescue operation and gave directions.