At least 81 people died after a suspension bridge collapsed and plunged into the river beneath in India.
Massive rescue operations took place in Morbi, Gujarat, after the suspension bridge hanging above the Machhu River gave up under the pressure of hundreds of people who were standing on it on Sunday afternoon.
According to State Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi, at least 150 people were on the narrow bridge at the time of the incident.
After the bridge caved in and plunged into the water, at least 81 people died and an additional 30 or more suffered injuries of some kind.
Dozens of people remain unaccounted for at this time.
In shocking photos from the scene of the tragedy, people could be seen hanging on the collapsed bridge while waiting for rescuers to pick them up.
“Many children were enjoying holidays for Diwali and they came here as tourists. All of them fell one on top of another. The bridge collapsed due to overloading,” one witness explained.
Another victim said it took just seconds for the bridge to collapse.
A third witness recalled the horrifying moment he saw children getting swept away by the drag created by the collapsed bridge.
“I wanted to pull some of them along with me but they had drowned or got swept away,” he said.
The Julto pul bridge is a 140-year-old structure that has recently been reopened to the public after months of refurbishing.
According to the authorities, the bridge likely collapsed because of overloading.
“I am deeply saddened by the tragedy at Morbi. Talked to Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and other officials about this,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi confirmed.
“Relief and rescue operations are going on in full swing and all necessary assistance is being provided to the affected.”
Minister of State Brijesh Merja added: “Due to the accident on the suspension bridge, all the private hospitals along with the civil hospital have been ordered to provide immediate treatment.
“Apart from this, orders have been given to take the injured people out of the water and take them to a private hospital in an ambulance, free of charge. Also, private hospitals have been asked to keep as many doctors as possible on duty.”
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