Ahmedabad: The death toll due to the collapse of a suspension bridge in Gujarat's Morbi has increased to 141 as of Monday morning, a top police official confirmed.
The toll was confirmed to the media by Rajkot Range Inspector General of Police Ashok Yadav.
However, the toll according to the Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi is 132, while two persons remain unaccounted for.
He also said that when the two missing persons are located, the search and rescue operations will be over.
As of Monday morning, the Morbi government hospital has released a list of 99 deceased, but has not mentioned the age of the victims.
Authorities said more than 400 people were on and around the colonial-era suspension bridge at the time of the collapse. The bridge had drawn many sightseers celebrating the Diwali, or festival of lights, and Chhath Puja holidays.
A criminal complaint against the cable bridge contractor and manager has been lodged while the police have started a probe into the incident.
Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, who has cancelled all his programmes and rushed to Morbi to personally monitor rescue and medical services, announced Rs 4 lakh compensation to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 financial help to those injured in the accident.
Patel is likely to camp in Morbi till the rescue operations continue.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who took cognisance of the accident, announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the next of the kin of the dead from the PM's Relief Fund, and Rs 50,000 for the injured.
According to a tweet by the Prime Minister's office, "PM @narendramodi spoke to Gujarat CM @Bhupendrapbjp and other officials regarding the mishap in Morbi. He has sought urgent mobilisation of teams for rescue ops. He has asked that the situation be closely and continuously monitored, and extend all possible help to those affected".
Meanwhile, the Morbi Municipal Committee's Chief Executive Officer S.V. Zala, in a shocking revelation, said that the bridge was opened for the public after renovation without a fitness certificate from the civic body.
On the state government's request, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has deployed one NDRF team from Rajkot, while Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has instructed the Army rescue teams to rush to Morbi.
The rescue operation is likely to be carried out the entire night, as locals fears that children's bodies have be swept away due to the water flow in the Machhu river.
Local authorities' apprehension is that the bridge has collapsed right in the middle of the river, where the water level is 15 to 20 feet deep, and due to this the death toll is likely to rise.
A total of seven fire brigade teams were pressed into rescue services, and one State Disaster Response Force team, and two NDRF teams from Gandhinagar rushed to the spot. Local authorities have started a helpline number - 02822-243300 - on which people can seek help to know about their missing relatives.
No fitness certificate for bridge
In wake of the hanging bridge collapse, the Morbi Municipal Committee's Chief Executive Officer S.V. Zala, in a shocking revelation, said that the bridge was opened for the public without a fitness certificate.
Zala, addressing the local media, said: "For a long period, this bridge was closed for the public... seven months ago, a private company was given contract for renovation and maintenance, and the bridge was reopened for the public on October 26 (Gujarati New year day) by the private company. The Nagar Palika has not issued a fitness certificate."
He even claimed that it is possible that the company might have got a fitness certificate from the engineering company, but it was not submitted to the municipality till date. The company, on its own and without informing the civic body, reopened the bridge for the public, he alleged.
Gujarat government sets up 5-member probe panel
Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel on Sunday set up a five member Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by an IAS officer, to inquire into the suspension bridge collapse.
The SIT will be headed by Commissioner of Municipalities Rajkumar Beniwal, and the other members are Secretary, Roads and Building Department, Sandeep Vasava, Inspector General of Police Subhash Trivedi, and two engineers specialised in structural and quality control.