The toll in the bridge collapse in Gujarat’s Morbi has climbed to 141, Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi said on Monday, reported The Hindu.
Sanghavi also said that 170 persons have been rescued so far even as search operations continue to find the missing ones.
“Investigation has begun under the range IG [inspector general],” he said, adding that a high-level committee former by the chief minister has also begun its investigation into the collapse.
The National Disaster Response Force resumed the rescue operation at the site, reported ANI. “It is suspected that some bodies may be there on the floor of the river, so we resumed the operation with the help of our deep divers,” NDRF commandant VVN Prasanna Kumar told the news agency.
The colonial-era cable bridge on Machchu river had snapped on Sunday evening four days after it was reopened to the public and seven months after the start of renovation work.
“The bridge collapsed as too many people in the mid-section of the bridge were trying to sway it from one way to the other,” said a spokesperson of the Oreva Group, which was given the contract to manage the structure. However, the company has been accused of multiple lapses, including its alleged failure to get a fitness certificate from the municipality.
The police have arrested two managers of Oreva, two ticket clerks, two contractors and three security guards for negligence leading to the tragedy.
On Monday, former Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel defended the state government, saying that it had no role in the renovation and reopening of the bridge, reported ANI.
Patel said that the renovation was being handled by the Morbi administration.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting in Gandhinagar where he was briefed about rescue and relief operations.
The meeting was attended by Chief Minisiter Bhupendra Patel, Sanghavi, chief secretary and director general of police, along with other top officials from the state’s Home Department and disaster management body.
On Monday, President of the United States, Joe Biden also expressed grief at the deaths caused by the bridge collapse.
“Jill and I send our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones during the bridge collapse in India, and join the people of Gujarat in mourning the loss of too many lives cut short,” Biden tweeted on Monday. “In this difficult hour, we will continue to stand with and support the Indian people.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his grief over the incident on Monday.
“The Secretary-General is deeply saddened by the tragic news of the collapse of the Morbi bridge in Gujarat,” a statement issued by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General. “He expresses his condolences to the families of the victims, as well as the people and Government of India, and wishes a quick recovery to those injured.”