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Pedestrian bridge collapses into river in India, killing at least 132

A recently renovated suspension pedestrian bridge in the western Indian state of Gujarat collapsed Oct. 30, causing hundreds to fall into the river below. (Video: Julie Yoon/The Washington Post)
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NEW DELHI — A suspension pedestrian bridge in western India collapsed Sunday evening at the height of the Diwali holiday period, causing hundreds to fall into the river below and killing 132 people, according to Ashok Yadav, a local police official.

The recently renovated bridge in Morbi, in Gujarat state, is nearly a century old and a historical landmark popular with tourists. Nearly 400 people were on the bridge late Sunday when it collapsed.

While an investigation is ongoing, police consider the leading cause to be excessive weight, Yadav said.

Rescue operations, with boats and ambulances, are ongoing. Two people remain missing as of Monday morning, Yadav added.

“I express my condolences to the families of the civilians who lost their lives in the Morbi disaster,” tweeted Bhupendra Patel, chief minister of Gujarat.

The 754-foot-long bridge, known as the “hanging bridge,” crosses the Machchhu River. It was built during the Victorian era by a Gujarati prince who was fascinated with construction. Waghji Thakor built railways, ports, temples and the bridge, which was meant to be a technological showcase connecting two of his palaces.

Video of the collapse shows the cable bridge twisting and partly submerged in the water, with some people clinging to the bridge’s edge and others swimming for the shore. People were seen treading water in a panic, calling for help as they carried bodies back to the shore.

Surveillance footage shows a crowded pedestrian bridge collapsing in the western Indian state of Gujarat on Oct. 30. At least 130 people died. (Video: Reuters)

Family members of those missing were urged to call disaster emergency services as the rescue teams conducted their search. Local hospitals took in patients for treatment.

Gujarat Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi said in a tweet that a five-member committee will investigate the cause of the bridge collapse. Some officials suggested the bridge was overcrowded around the holiday season of Diwali.

There is also mounting scrutiny over the bridge’s recent, six-month renovation. A local company carried out the project and reopened the bridge on Oct. 26 in time for Gujarati New Year without having obtained a “fitness certificate,” the Press Trust of India reported, citing a city official.

Four days later, the bridge collapsed.

Gerry Shih contributed to this report.