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Gujarat's Morbi bridge collapses 4 days after repairs: 140 dead

The famous hanging bridge over Machchhu river was reopened after hurried repairs on October 26 for Gujarati New Year without any safety clearance. And It was time families in huge numbers were converging for the ritual dip at dusk for Chhath puja on Sunday.

AHMEDABAD, Oct 31: The death toll in the Morbi bridge collapse in Gujarat during Chhath Puja celebrations has crossed 140. The British era bridge is also a tourist attraction. After remaining shut for a long time, it was reopened following hurried repairs on October 26 for Gujarati New Year without any safety clearance.

It was time families in huge numbers were converging for the ritual dip at dusk on Chhath.

The 1.25 metre-wide and 233-metre long suspended cable bridge, 250 km from Ahmedabad, had about 400 people on it when it snapped at 6.40 pm on Sunday evening, most of them falling into the Machchhu river below. As night fell, rescue work was hampered and very few lives could be saved.

The National Disaster Response Force and the Indian Navy personnel were still fishing out more bodies on Monday morning. The death toll is climbing.

A case under Sections 304 and 308 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered and a committee has been formed to look into any lapses in the repair work, the Government said.

Witnesses have accused the ticket selling staff of criminal negligence in not checking overcrowding on the bridge dating back to British times (opened February 20, 1879), despite being warned. It did not have any fitness certificate. A firm called Oreva company was handed the bridge for operation and maintenance for 15 years, it was reported.

Earlier, a dam breach in Morbi had killed thousands of people in 1979.

Gujarat goes to the polls later in the coming months and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been touring the State. He was addressing a gathering on the occasion of the 147th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Ekta Nagar in Kevadia in Gujarat.

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