Officials estimated that 500 people, including women and children, were engaged in religious rituals on and around the bridge.
“Seventy-five people died,” a local official said by phone. He said most of the victims drowned.
At least 90 unconfirmed death tolls have been reported by the media for their part. The previous official report put the death toll at 60.
More than 80 people have been rescued, Gujarat government official Brijesh Merja said earlier.
Located in Morbi, 200 kilometers west of Gujarat’s main city of Ahmedabad, the bridge over the Machu River, dating back to the British colonial era, has reopened to the public after months of work. “People were falling on top of each other when the bridge broke. They had gathered there for rituals on the occasion of Diwali. Among the victims are many women and children,” an unidentified witness was quoted as saying by local media.
Divers and the military
The 233-meter-long suspension bridge was built in 1880 with materials imported from England, according to local media. NDTV reported that it reopened to the public on Wednesday after seven months of operation without a safety certificate being issued by the authorities.
A rescue operation involving divers, boats and dozens of soldiers was launched. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in Gujarat, where he is, called for “urgent mobilization of rescue teams” and assistance to all those affected, his cabinet tweeted.
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