About 177 people have been rescued, officials said, and 19 are receiving medical care as searches continue through the night.
The death toll from the collapse of a colonial-era suspension bridge in the western Indian state of Gujarat has risen to 132, according to officials, as rescue workers worked through the night to comb the Machu River for survivors.
Harsh Sanjavi, Gujarat’s home minister, told reporters that the death toll had risen from 68 on Sunday to 132 early Monday as search operations continued.
About 177 people were rescued, while 19 were receiving medical care, the Gujarat Information Department said.
The bridge was built in Morbi, a town about 200 kilometers (120 miles) west of Gujarat’s main city, Ahmedabad, during British rule in the 19th century and closed due to renovation work for about six months before reopening to the public last week.
Local media reported that hundreds of spectators celebrating Diwali, the festival of lights and the Chat Puja holidays, were on the 230-meter-high bridge when it collapsed on Sunday.
Television footage showed dozens of people clinging to cables and the remains of the twisted bridge as emergency teams struggled to rescue them.
Some climbed the broken structure to try to make their way to the river banks, while others swam to safety. Among the victims were several children.
Prateek Vasva, who swam to the river bank after falling from the bridge, told the Gujarati language 24 Hours Channel that he saw several children falling into the river.
“I wanted to take some with me,” he said, “but they drowned or were swept away.”
He said the bridge collapsed in just a few seconds.
Another witness, who gave his name as Scram, told Reuters news agency that the bridge collapsed because it could not bear the weight of many people.
“Many children were enjoying Diwali holidays and they came here as tourists. Each fell on top of the other. The bridge collapsed due to overloading.”
The Gujarat government said an investigation was underway to ascertain the cause of the disaster.
She said more than 200 rescue workers have been mobilized for the search and rescue operation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in his home state of Gujarat for a three-day visit, has announced payment of 200,000 Indian rupees ($2,428) to the families of the dead.
He said in a tweet on Twitter that the injured will receive 50,000 Indian rupees ($607).
Poland, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Armenia and others sent their condolences for the tragedy.
The Italian Foreign Ministry expressed its “deep sadness” and “our condolences to the victims and our deepest sympathy to their families and all their employees.” [Indian] people at this tragic time.”
Deep sadness for Italy 🇮🇹 for the collapse of the bridge over the Machu River in India. We express our condolences to the victims and our deepest sympathies to their families and all 🇮🇳 people at this tragic time. pic.twitter.com/R5QivmzGrz
– Italy MFA (ItalyMFA_int) October 30, 2022
The UAE said it stood “in solidarity with India”, while Sri Lanka said it was “shocked and saddened by the tragic incident in Morbi”.
Shocked and disheartened by the tragic accident that occurred in Morbi, Gujarat state with the bridge collapse. government and people #srilanka Join me in offering my deepest condolences to the government. and people #IndiaEspecially the families of the citizens who lost their lives. (1/2)
– PMD (@PMDNewsGov) October 31, 2022