More Than 130 People Dead in Cable Bridge Collapse in India’s Gujarat State

India’s Gujarat state government has opened a criminal investigation into the agency charged with maintaining a historic cable-stayed bridge after the popular attraction collapsed on Sunday under the weight of hundreds of visitors, killing more than 130 people.

Harsh Sanghavi, the state’s home minister, told reporters that an investigation under criminal provisions related to manslaughter had been opened at a local company. The bridge, which was built in the late 19th century, reopened to the public last week after months of repairs.

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Mr. Sanghavi did not name the company. Several Indian media reported that a local industrial company known as Oreva was in charge of maintaining and repairing the bridge.

Ashok Yadav, a senior official with the Gujarat state police, told reporters late Monday that nine people had been arrested in connection with the investigation into the bridge collapse. Those arrested include two Orewa company managers, two ticket officers on the bridge that collapsed, two bridge repair contractors and three security guards tasked with regulating the entry of people onto the bridge, according to Mr. Yadav.

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Calls to Oreva were not returned Monday and she did not respond to an email for comment.

Mr. Yadav said the police may make more arrests as investigations continue.

“Our effort is to set a strong example throughout this process,” he said.

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Rescue operations continued on Monday, with 170 people pulled from the waters of the Machu River, which the bridge spans, the state disaster management agency said.

Videos shared by television channels and on social media showed people in the water holding on to parts of the collapsed bridge and trying to climb out.

The death toll could continue to rise after a suspension bridge collapsed in the western Indian state of Gujarat, killing more than 130 people. The popular tourist attraction was packed as hundreds of people visited the area to celebrate holidays including Diwali. Photo: AP Photo/Ajit Solanki

Tushar Daftari, a local member of the Lions Clubs International service community who was among those helping with rescue operations last night, said many people had been visiting family in the area for public holidays in the past week, including Diwali and the Gujarati new year. That meant more people than usual visited the bridge over the weekend, according to Mr Daftari.

A local news report said some visitors expressed concerns to ticket agents that some people were shaking the crowded bridge.

Videos posted on social media platform Twitter showed the bridge – which sways when people walk on it – packed with visitors, some of whom appear to be vigorously shaking its hanging cables. Users of meta platforms AD

Facebook in India and outside the country, however, was unable to view posts with the Gujarat hashtag for several hours on Monday.

“Keeping our community safe,” the message said, when users clicked on a page that would normally display a stream of videos, photos and news related to the bridge’s condition or collapse. It added that the posts were temporarily hidden because “some of the content in those posts violates our community standards.”

“The hashtag was blocked in error,” a Meta spokeswoman said Tuesday, adding that it has since been reinstated.

She declined to say which material may have violated the platform’s standards, which prohibit violent and graphic content, hate speech and other types of material. India is Facebook’s largest market by users. Meanwhile, video footage of Halloween revelers in South Korea over the weekend remained visible throughout Monday via the Seoul World hashtag.

After the Wall Street Journal reached out to Facebook for comment on Monday, posts with the Gujarat hashtag resurfaced, topped by a video from an Indian TV network showing the moment the bridge collapsed.

The state said it would award the equivalent of nearly $4,900 to the families of those killed in the disaster, as well as compensate those injured. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has ruled the country for more than a decade while cementing his political rise, also unveiled compensation for the victims and expressed his grief.

The tragedy has cast a shadow over Mr Modi’s three-day visit to the state, which began on Sunday, aimed at showcasing development projects ahead of elections there due later this year. The prime minister is leading a renewed push to attract more factories to India and create more jobs. Hours before the bridge collapsed, Mr. Modi presided over the start of construction of an aircraft manufacturing plant in the state in partnership with Europe’s Airbus SE, hailing it as a step forward in the country’s goal of becoming a global manufacturing hub.

But India’s efforts to attract more manufacturing and create more jobs have often been challenged by concerns about the country’s dilapidated infrastructure and security lapses, concerns likely to be exacerbated by Sunday’s disaster.

Write to Krishna Pokharel at [email protected] and Tripti Lahiri at [email protected]

Corrections and enhancements
Harsh Sanghavi is the Home Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat. An earlier version of this article misspelled his surname as Sanghvi on the second reference. (Fixed on November 1)

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