Indian bridge collapse death toll reaches 134 …Police arrest nine

Indian police arrested nine people on Monday, including ticketing clerks and contractors, as they investigate the collapse of a foot bridge in which at least 134 people, including many children, were killed.

CCTV footage from just before the collapse showed a group of young men taking photos while others tried to rock the suspension bridge in Morbi from side to side, before they tumbled into the river below as the cables gave way

The colonial-era bridge over the Machchhu River was packed with sightseers enjoying holiday festivities when it ruptured on Sunday evening, sending people plunging about 10 metres (33 feet) into the water.

Ashwin Mehra, who was undergoing treatment after sustaining leg and back injuries, said he and six others had reached the shore by holding unto the bridge’s metal railings and netting.

“There were about 15-20 boys aged between 20-25 years who were shaking the bridge,” he told Reuters TV partner, ANI. “…We heard some sounds three times, and the sixth time the cable (of the bridge) suddenly snapped.”

A senior police official said nine people had been arrested, including managerial staff, ticketing clerks and three security guards, for failing to regulate crowds before the bridge crumpled.

Two people awarded a contract to repair the structure, originally built in 1877, were among those arrested, Ashok Kumar Yadav said. He said more arrests were likely to be done.

Shock and grief at the tragedy were mixed with anger from some of the loved ones of those killed and members of the opposition in the western state of Gujarat, where elections are due by early next year.

“Not just extremely sad on bridge collapse in Morbi, but also very angry. Because it was a tragedy in waiting,” Gurdeep Singh Sappal, a member of the Congress party, wrote on Twitter.

“For some time now, bridge collapse, roads caving-in, dams breaching are happening quite often.”

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who hails from the state where the disaster occurred, is due to visit the small industrial town on Tuesday, a lawmaker said. -Reuters

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