More than 50 children were among the 135 people killed when a bridge collapsed in the Indian state of Gujarat on Sunday, state officials said in a casualty list released Wednesday.
Investigators are investigating why Morby’s historic suspension bridge collapsed, sending dozens of people into the river below. One of the biggest social security tragedies to hit the country in recent years.
Questions have been raised about how the narrow road collapsed and the role of the power generation company tasked with preserving the colonial-era structure, which reopened to the public last week after repairs.
Here’s what we know.
According to Gujarat state authorities, around 200 people were estimated to have been involved when a bridge over the Macchhu River in Morbi collapsed at around 18:30 local time on October 30.
According to information released on Wednesday, 54 children were among the dead. Most were under the age of 10, the youngest was a 2-year-old boy.
A 36-second video shared by the Morbi district administration via CNN affiliate News-18 shows a crowd of youths gathering moments before the bridge collapsed.
The footage appears to show some of the men shaking the bridge to its side and plunging the people standing on it into the river before giving way.
Gujarat Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi announced on October 31 the cable seems to be broken.
Photos that followed showed people gathering on the river bank next to a broken rail suspended at a sharp angle to the water.
Survivors and eyewitnesses to the horrific events described a scene of chaos.
“People were hanging from the bridge after the accident, but when it collapsed, they slipped and fell into the river,” Raju, a witness who gave only one name, told Reuters. “I couldn’t sleep all night because I helped in the rescue operation. Many children were brought to the hospital.”
“I can’t express how angry and helpless I am,” Narendrasinh Jadeja, whose friend lost seven family members, including four children, told Reuters.
The Morby Suspension Bridge was built in 1900 during British rule and is 230 meters long and only 1.25 meters (4 feet) wide.
For decades, it has been a tourist attraction in the riverside town, and its cobblestone streets carry a legacy of colonial architecture.
The chief executive of Gujarat-based electronics maker Oreva, which oversaw the bridge’s renovations, said the six-month renovation was closed in April.
Video footage shows people clinging to the rubble of the deadly bridge
CEO at the opening ceremony on October 26 told reporters The structure won’t need any major work for “eight to 10 years,” according to a video of the event posted on social media.
Gujarat Home Minister Sanghavi announced on October 31 that a five-member special inquiry committee has been formed to probe the case.
Search and recovery efforts by state and national disaster teams and hundreds of Indian Army personnel are ongoing.
On October 31, state police arrested nine people and are investigating charges of culpable homicide. The suspects are all related to Orewa.
They included two managers, two ticket sellers, two contractors and three security guards, said Superintendent of Police Ashok Kumar Yadav.
Ever since the fatal incident, public scrutiny has turned to Oreva, which is based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city.
Oreva began as a watchmaker before branching out into electronics, according to its website, which describes the firm as “the world’s largest watchmaker” and “one of India’s leading brands”.
CNN reached out to Orewa several times, but did not receive a response.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the disaster site in Morbi on November 1.
After an aerial search of the area, he was seen standing at one end of the collapsed suspension bridge, reviewing the rescue operation.
“I went to Morbi where I witnessed the terrible bridge accident. He met the families of the deceased and expressed his condolences. I went to the site of the tragedy and went to the hospital where the injured are recovering,” Modi tweeted after visiting a local hospital.
It added that the Indian leader met the personnel involved in the rescue operation and chaired a review meeting.
The Gujarat Chief Minister’s office tweeted that Modi had “assured them all possible assistance from the government.”
A search and rescue operation continued Tuesday as divers recovered the body.
Modi had earlier announced that the families of the victims would be compensated from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.
Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel said the state government would pay about $5,000 to the families of the dead and about $600 each to the injured.
Cremation of the deceased is expected to begin on November 1.
Following the tragedy, world leaders paid tribute to the victims and their families.
US President Joe Biden expressed his condolences to those who lost loved ones in the disaster.
“Our hearts are with India today. Jill and I express our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones in the bridge collapse and join the people of Gujarat in mourning the loss of life,” Biden said in a statement on Monday.
“The United States and India are indispensable partners with deep ties between our citizens. We will continue to support and stand with the people of India during this difficult time.”
China’s state broadcaster CCTV reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping also expressed his condolences to Modi.
“On behalf of the Chinese government and the Chinese people, I express my deepest condolences to the victims and their families and the injured,” Xi Jinping told CCTV.