At least 40 people were killed when a pedestrian bridge in the western Indian state of Gujarat collapsed, plunging hundreds of people into a river, a state minister said.
More than 400 people were on the suspension bridge over the Machhu River in the town of Morbi at the time of the collapse, local TV channel Zee News said.
TV footage showed dozens of people clinging onto the cables and twisted remains of the collapsed bridge as emergency teams struggled to rescue them. Some clambered up them to try to make their way to the river banks, while others swam to safety.
“At least 40 people have died so far and 30 others were injured,” said Brijesh Merja, a minister and lawmaker from Morbi. “Casualties may rise as rescue operations are ongoing.”
The 230-metre historic bridge was built during British rule in the 19th century. It had been closed for renovation for six months and was reopened for the public last week.
Officials said the victims are mostly local people who were visiting the bridge for recreational purposes.
Morbi is one of the largest ceramic manufacturing clusters in the world and accounts for more than 80 per cent of India’s ceramic output.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in his home state Gujarat for a three-day visit, said he had directed the state chief minister to mobilize teams urgently for the rescue operation.
The incident comes ahead of elections in Gujarat, which are expected to be held by the year-end with the current term of the Modi’s ruling party’s term ending in February, 2023.