India Bridge Collapse: Death Toll Rises to Over 130

The death toll from a collapse of a pedestrian bridge in western India has risen to at least 132 people, local officials said as rescue teams continued to search for the missing on Monday.

India Bridge Collapse: Death Toll Rises to Over 130
Image credit: Reuters [via The Guardian]

Facts

  • The death toll from a collapse of a pedestrian bridge in western India has risen to at least 132 people, local officials said as rescue teams continued to search for the missing on Monday.
  • More than 400 people were reportedly on the suspension bridge over the Machchu River in the city of Morbi, in the state of Gujarat when it collapsed on Sunday. People had come onto the bridge to celebrate a post-Diwali religious practice in which idols are submerged in the river.
  • The bridge — known locally as "jhoolta pool," or swinging bridge — was inaugurated in 1879 during British rule. Prior to its collapse, it was closed for six months while repair work was undertaken, and it re-opened on Oct. 26.
  • Local officials added that at least 177 people have so far been pulled out of the river by rescue teams.
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — a native of Gujarat — announced a compensation of 200K rupees (roughly $2.4K) to the families of the victims. An official investigation was also launched.
  • On Monday, it was further announced that nine people — including officials from Oreva group, the company in charge of repairs — were arrested in connection with the collapse of the bridge.

Sources: NPR Online News, Guardian, Hindustan Times, and Times of India.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Hindustan Times. Questions must be asked of the Oreva group who were maintaining the bridge. Why did a company specializing in clocks, bulbs, and electrical appliances receive the contract to repair the 140-year-old structure? There are also reports the bridge reopened without authorization from local officials. These pressing questions must be answered.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Times of India. This is a tragedy with multiple possible causes. There are reports that groups of teenagers were shaking the bridge before its collapse. Noises were also heard several times before the structure gave way. There may be multiple stakeholders who need to answer tough questions — where were the police and the local authorities?