At least 133 people were killed and many more were missing after a century-old cable suspension bridge collapsed into a river in the western Indian state of Gujarat.
Jigar Khunt, an information department official in Gujarat said that at least 177 survivors were pulled from the river, and teams from the army, navy and air force were looking for others still missing.
Hundreds of others were desperately clinging to the broken structure and trying to make their way to safety, as crowds shouted or swam to try to save those who had fallen into the river.
The 19th century, a colonial-era pedestrian bridge over the Machchu river in Gujarat’s Morbi district collapsed because it couldn’t handle the weight of the large crowd, as the Hindu festival season drew hundreds of sightseers to the recently opened tourist attraction. Security footage showed the suspension bridge shaking violently and people trying to hold onto its cables and green-colored metal nets before the walkway gave way and crashed into the river.
Four days before the Gujarati New Year, the 761-foot-long bridge had reopened after it had been closed for repairs for six months.
At least 132 people were confirmed dead and many others were in critical condition according to the state minister. Emergency responders and rescuers searched overnight for survivors. He said that most of the victims were women and teens.
It was not immediately clear how many people were on the bridge when it collapsed, but survivors said it was so crowded that the crowd was unable to move to safety when the cable strings snapped.
There were so many people on that bridge. While recovering from injuries in a hospital bed in Morbi, Sidik Bai said that he could barely move.
When the bridge began to crack, Sidik jumped into the water and saw that his friend was crushed by the metal. He was able to survive the disaster by climbing onto the bridge and holding onto its cables, but his friend couldn’t make it.
“Everyone was crying for help, but one by one they all disappeared into the water,” Sidik said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in Gujarat, his home state, on a three-day visit, said he was “deeply sad” by the tragedy and his office announced compensation to the families of the dead.
During a public event in the state, Modi said that he would have never experienced such pain in his life.