Authorities said at least 81 people were confirmed dead, and many more were missing as some 400 people plunged into the River Macchu in Morbi city.
Local footage showed survivors hanging off the partly-submerged suspension bridge, with dozens clinging on to the cables and twisted remains of the bridge. Emergency teams struggled to rescue them. Some clambered up the broken structure to try to make their way to the riverbanks, while others swam to safety.
In addition to those who died, at least 30 people were injured, officials said. It was not immediately clear what caused the bridge to collapse, but India generally still struggles with notoriously poor infrastructure.
The 230-meter-long (754 feet) colonial-era collapsed crossing was built during the British rule of India in the 19th Century.
As rescue workers rushed to save lives Sunday, and some 80 people were rescued, said Brijesh Merja, a state minister.
The state government also announced it had formed a five-member special investigation team to investigate the disaster.
The tragedy shocked Morbi, one of the top areas of ceramic manufacturing in the world and accounting for more than 80 percent of India’s ceramics output.
India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, who was in his home state of Gujarat for a three-day visit, said he directed the state chief minister to mobilize teams for the rescue operation urgently.
The incident comes before elections in Gujarat that were due to be held by the end of the year, with the current term of Modi’s ruling party’s term ending in February 2023.
Modi said he was “deeply saddened by the tragedy” and announced compensation for the injured and the next of kin of those who perished in the tragedy.
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