The Gujarat government on Thursday called off the search and rescue operation that was launched after the collapse of Morbi bridge on Sunday, reported PTI. State Commissioner of Relief Harshad Patel said that no more victims were reported missing so the rescue operation was called off.
The colonial-era bridge on the Machchu river had collapsed on Sunday evening, four days after it was reopened to the public following seven months of renovation. Officials said 135 persons died and 170 were rescued, many of whom have been admitted to hospitals with injuries.
“After verifying the information brought to the district administration, there is nobody else who is missing, and no chance of recovering any more bodies,” Patel said, reported the Hindustan Times. “Taking that into factor and after discussions with state and central agencies, we have called off rescue operations.”
The joint rescue operation included personnel from the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the National Disaster Response Force, the State Disaster Response Force, the local fire department, and the Coast Guard, as well as the police department. The rescue teams were deployed to scan the entire river in the area since Sunday night to find missing persons as well as bodies using sonar technology and under-water cameras.
Meanwhile, the Gujarat government on Friday suspended Morbi Municipality Chief Officer Sandipsinh Zala, reported PTI. On Wednesday, the Morbi Police had questioned Zala for four hours.
“The state Urban Development Department has suspended Chief Officer of Morbi Municipality Sandipsinh Zala,” Morbi District Collector GT Pandya told the news agency.
So far, the police have arrested two managers of Oreva Group, which was given the contract to manage the bridge, as well as two ticket clerks, two contractors and three security guards on charges including culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The Gujarat Police on Wednesday said that the contractors roped in by the Oreva Group to restore the bridge did not conduct any scientific assessment of its structural stability. The authorities said the Oreva Group, maker of Ajanta clocks and electrical products, was in March awarded a contract to maintain and manage the bridge for 15 years.
“A one-page contract was signed between Oreva and the contractor company, awarding Rs 29 lakh for the bridge repair and with no specification on a standard operating procedure for the work or the works that are required to be completed,” Morbi Deputy Superintendent of Police PA Zala told The Indian Express.