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The death toll soars past 130 from suspension bridge collapse in India

Rescuers on boats search in the Machchu river next to a cable bridge that collapsed in Morbi district, western Gujarat state, India.
Rajesh Ambaliya
/
AP
Rescuers on boats search in the Machchu river next to a cable bridge that collapsed in Morbi district, western Gujarat state, India.

Updated October 31, 2022 at 4:53 AM ET

MUMBAI — The death toll soared on Monday as rescue teams searched for the missing after a suspension bridge collapsed in the western Indian state of Gujarat.

At least 132 people were killed when the bridge collapsed on Sunday night after people fell into the Machchu river when the incident happened in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state.

At least 177 survivors were pulled from the river by military rescue teams, The Associated Press reported, quoting a Gujarat state information department official.

Video reports showed many survivors clinging to the broken bridge structure and trying to make their way to safety, The AP reported. The news organization quoted local authorities saying the 19th-century, colonial-era pedestrian bridge over the Machchu river in the state's Morbi district collapsed because it could not handle the weight of the large crowd. The Hindu festival season has drawn hundreds of sightseers to the bridge.

A private company had repaired the bridge for six months before it was opened to the public four days ago. The 100-year-old bridge, located in a town about 200 kilometers (about 124 miles) west of the state capital, was a tourist attraction. However, Gujarat state civic body officials told local news media that the private company may have opened the bridge without a "fitness certificate," the AP reported.

Modi has announced monetary compensation of 200,000 Indian rupees (about $2,400) to families of the dead.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Raksha Kumar