NEW DELHI (AP) — At least 60 people were killed and many feared injured after a cable-stayed bridge collapsed over a river in the western Indian state of Gujarat on Sunday night, plunging hundreds of people into the water, officials said.
Authorities said the 19th-century, colonial-era bridge over the Machchu River in the state’s Morbi district collapsed because it could not withstand the weight of the large crowd. The bridge was closed for renovations for nearly six months and reopened four days ago.
It was not immediately clear exactly how many people were on the bridge, a major tourist attraction in the area, but officials fear the death toll could rise. Foreign Minister Brijesh Merja told reporters that 60 people have died so far and 17 people have been hospitalized.
Merja said emergency responders and rescue crews were searching for survivors, and the dead and injured were mostly teenagers, women and the elderly.
“A rescue operation is underway,” Merja was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency. “There are reports that several people have been injured. They are rushed to the hospitals.”
Videos on social media showed people clinging to the metal cables of the partially submerged bridge in peril as emergency teams and rescuers used boats and inflatable tires to reach them. Some people were seen swimming ashore to safety. Others, who were fished out of the water, were dragged away and taken to hospitals by private vehicles and ambulances.
Local news channels carried photos of the missing people shared by concerned relatives looking for their loved ones.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in his home state of Gujarat on a three-day visit, said he was “deeply saddened by the tragedy”. His office announced compensation to the families of the dead and urged swift rescue efforts.
Meanwhile, the state government said it has formed a task force to investigate the disaster.
The bridge collapse is the third major disaster in Asia in a month.
On Saturday, a Halloween mob killed more than 150, mostly young people, attending festivities in Itaewon, a neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea. On October 1, police in Indonesia fired tear gas at a soccer match, causing a stampede that killed 132 people as spectators tried to flee.