A family lost six of its members, including two children, while on an outing at the Gujarat suspension bridge that collapsed on Sunday, killing at least 135 people.
The inconsolable family told NDTV that the youngest victim was three years old, and another 20-year-old was about to get married next month. They were carrying the three-year-old in their lap when the cables snapped, sending several to their deaths in the river below.
Mehboob Bhai Mira lost his daughter, two sisters, two nieces, and a nephew.
Over 35 people from his family had gone to the bridge in Morbi at around 6 pm. Mehboob Bhai Mira and his wife Rasheeda Ben did not go as they had to buy jewellery for the 20-year-old who died, as her engagement was in 15 days.
Visibly angry at the immediate response to the accident, Mr Mira said the ambulance reached one hour after the collapse and the administration took two hours to get there. Other family members, including children, jumped into the water to pull people out, he said, adding that no government representative has met them yet.
The Rs 17 entry ticket were sold to 300-400 people, more than twice the capacity of the bridge, which caused it to collapse.
“Nobody stopped them. There were no police, security or municipality officials there,” he added.
A woman from the family said she rescued two of her children, and also pulled out other children. “There should have been someone to tell us to wait until others got off from the bridge,” she added.
The family demanded justice, and said the bridge should be properly rebuilt, with strict safety checks.
Several such heart-wrenching stories are coming in from survivors and family members of those who died in the tragedy.
The British-era suspension bridge in Morbi, which had been closed since March for renovation, collapsed on Sunday night – just four days after it reopened to the public. At least 47 children, several women and elderly are among the dead, according to the officials.
Nearly 500 people were on the bridge when it collapsed. Though, the 150-year-old structure could take the weight of only about 125 people.
The company was bound by its contract to keep the bridge shut for at least eight to 12 months for maintenance and repairs. It was a “seriously irresponsible and careless gesture” to open the bridge last week, the police said in an FIR.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the hospital in Morbi city where the injured people are being treated. The facility got a quick-fix facelift overnight ahead of his visit.