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India bridge collapse: Hundreds plunged into river and dozens killed in Gujarat

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    16 minutes ago

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At least 78 people have died after a pedestrian bridge collapsed in India’s western state of Gujarat.

Hundreds of people were plunged into River Macchu in Morbi town. Local footage shows survivors hanging off the partly-submerged suspension bridge.

Reports say as many as 400 people were on the structure at the time. More than 80 people have been rescued, said Brijesh Merja, a state minister.

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The incident comes just days after the bridge was reopened following repairs.

The 230-metre (754 feet) colonial-era crossing was built during British rule of India in the 19th Century. Known locally as a Julto Pool, it is a popular tourist attraction in the area.

Sunday’s accident occurred at around 18:40 (13:10 GMT).

One witness told Reuters news agency that there were many children on the pedestrian bridge when it collapsed.

Prateek Vasava was one of those on the bridge at the time. He told 24 Hours Gujarati-language news channel how he swam to the river bank after falling into the water.

Several children fell into the river, he said, adding: “I wanted to pull some of them along with me but they had drowned or got swept away.”

Videos show scenes of chaos as onlookers on the river banks attempt to rescue those trapped in the water as darkness fell.

Another video shows people climbing up netted wire remains of the bridge to escape the water.

Emergency responders from neighbouring districts have been sent to help with rescue efforts, which are continuing through the night.

It is not clear what caused the bridge to collapse, but local authorities have suggested there was overcrowding because of holidays for the Diwali festival.

Videos circulating on social media show the footbridge swaying in the daytime crowded with pedestrians.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in his home state of Gujarat on a three-day visit, said he was “deeply saddened by the tragedy”.

Mr Modi has announced compensation for the injured, as well as the next of kin of those who have died.

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