More than 130 people were killed on Sunday when a pedestrian bridge packed with tourists enjoying festival festivities collapsed and plunged them into the river below in the town of Morbi in Gujarat state. Shortly after the bridge broke, several rescue teams rushed to the scene. But before they could reach the scene, a group of locals jumped into the river, saving many lives.
Jignesh Laljibhai and the army recruit cadets he directed were crossing the area when he noticed a large crowd. As soon as he saw the collapsed bridge, he acted immediately.
“I let my children go on the bridge, jump into the river if they can swim, and throw ropes into the river if they can’t. At the same time, I crossed the bridge with one of my students and reached the site of the collapse,” He says.
“We saved about 80 to 90 lives, including children,” said one of the men.
Authorities said more than 400 people were on and around the colonial-era suspension bridge when it collapsed.
The bridge had been closed for several months for repairs and reopened just four days before the accident.
Oreva, the company responsible for making clocks and electronics for the bridge, did not notify authorities that it would reopen last week after repairs, adding that no certificate for public use had been issued, local officials told NDTV.
“It was a government tender. Oreva Group was supposed to provide the fit-out details and conduct quality checks before the bridge opened. But it didn’t. The government didn’t know about it,” said Sandipsinh Zala, head of the Morbi municipal body.
The bridge is 1.25 m (4 ft) wide and 233 m (255 yd) across and connects the Dabagad Palace Heritage Hotel and the town.