Nine Arrested for Morbi Bridge Collapse; FIR Cites 'Callous Approach' by Firm That Carried Repair

Among the arrested are managers of Oreva, the company that renovated the bridge, ticket collectors, bridge repair contractors and three security guards. None of the top bosses of the firm have been held.

Listen to this article:

New Delhi: A day after over 130 people died in a bridge collapse in Gujarat’s Morbi, nine people have been arrested, and a case has been filed against firms tasked with the maintenance and operation of the British-era structure.

Among the arrested are managers of Oreva, the company that renovated the bridge, ticket collectors, bridge repair contractors and three security guards whose job was to control the crowds. According to NDTV, none of the top bosses of the firm has been arrested so far, even as the firm faces multiple allegations of violating requisite safety norms.

“We won’t let the guilty get away, we won’t spare anyone,” the news channel quoted Morbi police chief Ashok Yadav as saying hours before the arrest.

Video footage emerged of the moments before Sunday evening’s deadly collapse, showing the bridge snapping in a few seconds, taking down scores of visitors seen walking on the swaying British-era structure which reopened five days ago after extensive repair but sans a fitness certificate.

The death toll in the bridge collapse has mounted to 134, he said.

Police have registered an FIR (first information report) on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and attempt to commit culpable homicide against agencies given the task of maintenance and operation of the bridge.

In the FIR lodged at the Morbi ‘B’ division police station on Sunday night, police have shown “agencies responsible for maintenance and management of the hanging bridge” as the main accused.

The FIR, lodged by ‘B’ division police inspector Prakash Dekivadia, stated that the bridge over the Machchhu river was not in use for nearly eight months as the local administration had roped in a “private agency” for its maintenance.

After completion of the maintenance, the agency opened the bridge for the public on October 26, the FIR said.

As per the FIR, the incident took place because of the “callous approach” of the agency people.

The FIR further stated that persons concerned or agencies did not pay attention to the quality of maintenance as well as repair work of the bridge.

The bridge was opened for tourists by the agency despite knowing that their “callous approach” in the maintenance and management of the bridge may lead to human deaths, the FIR stated.

“We have lodged an FIR and are trying to establish contact with the Oreva company’s staff who were on duty at the bridge yesterday,” SP Rahul Tripathi said.

A day after the bridge crammed with visitors came crashing down, sending people tumbling into the river below, rescue operation continued as authorities looked for survivors.

According to Indian Express, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting to review the situation in Morbi, at Gujarat Raj Bhavan in Gandhinagar. Modi, who is on a three-day tour to election-bound Gujarat, will be visiting Morbi on Tuesday, November 1.

Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel and minister of state for home Harsh Sanghavi remained in Morbi during the night to oversee the rescue operation being conducted by multiple agencies.

Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel at the site to take stock of the situation after an old suspension bridge over the Machchhu river collapsed on Sunday, in Morbi district, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022.

The more than a century-old bridge on the Machchhu river in Morbi, located around 300 km from the state capital Gandhinagar, collapsed around 6: 30 pm on Sunday.

The state information department said five teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), six platoons of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), a team of the Air Force, two columns of the Army, and two teams of the Indian Navy apart from local rescue teams were involved in the operation.

Sanghavi told reporters the state government has formed a committee to conduct a probe into the bridge collapse.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a tour of poll-bound Gujarat, remembered those who died in the tragedy.

He paid tributes to India’s first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his birth anniversary at the Statue of Unity at Kevadia in Narmada district.

“I am in Kevadia, but my heart goes out to those who died in the Morbi Bridge collapse tragedy,” the PM said as he got emotional.

After the collapse, all that remained of the bridge was part of the metal carriageway hanging down from one end into the river water, its thick cables snapped in places.

At the local hospital, people formed a human chain to hold back crowds and keep the road clear for ambulances which brought those rescued.

Oreva had carried out the repair work of the bridge for nearly seven months before it was reopened for the public on the Gujarati New Year day on October 26.

The bridge was reopened after a private inaugural event and was yet to receive the municipality’s “fitness certificate,” a civic official said.

Following the accident, Modi cancelled his road show scheduled to be held in Ahmedabad on Monday ahead of the state Assembly polls.

(With PTI inputs)

Note: This is a developing story. It will be updated as new information trickles in.