Four days after the Gujarat bridge horror, in which 135 people were killed, a man was seen at the site of the tragedy, weeping for a missing child. But an official at the site said he had “no information that anyone is missing”.
“Our boy…has not been found,” the man said, sobbing uncontrollably. He was talking about his missing nephew.
His sister – the boy’s mother – died in the bridge collapse at Morbi on Sunday and was cremated yesterday. The woman and her son had come from Shamnagar for an outing at the historic “hanging bridge”.
“Whatever it is…if we find him then we will get some closure,” he said. He was speaking to NDTV when GT Pandya, the District Collector of Morbi, arrived at the spot.
Mr Pandya and other officials then took the man aside to try and help him find his nephew.
“A total of 135 people have died…But our control room is still operational. People can give us any information, we’ll follow it up with due procedure,” Mr Pandya told reporters.
“We have no information that anyone is missing,” he said, adding, “We will take action after detailed meetings.”
On Sunday, there were close to 500 people on the bridge when it collapsed, just four days after its reopening after a seven-month renovation.
Some 47 children died, the youngest just two.
The company that renovated the bridge, clock-maker Oreva, was not qualified to maintain public infrastructure. The Gujarat-based company, known for making clocks, watches, fans, e-bikes and LED lights, was awarded a 15-year contract by the Morbi civic body to operate and maintain the bridge.
A series of lapses in the contract and the repair work have been flagged in court.
The company opened the bridge before schedule, anticipating crowds and greater revenue during the Gujarati New Year on October 26 and the Diwali festival.
The material used was substandard and no quality checks were done before the bridge was reopened to the public. The company installed heavier flooring but did not replace a rusty main cable. A subcontractor only painted and polished the cables, which snapped after failing to support the flooring.
There was no emergency rescue and evacuation plan, no lifesaving equipment or lifeguards and no documentation of the repair work.
Two managers of the Oreva group and two sub-contractors have been arrested. Five ticket sellers and security guards for the bridge are also in jail. But Oreva’s bosses remain missing – they are not named in the police case.