Vol. 4 Num 94 Fri. August 29, 2003  
Front Page

22 school kids killed, 20 missing as bridge collapses in India

At least 22 children were killed and 20 others were feared dead after a road bridge across an inlet in western India collapsed yesterday, sending vehicles plummeting into the water.

"So far 24 dead bodies have been recovered and 22 of them are children," Gyanendra Srivastava, the administrator of Daman district, about 125 miles from Bombay, told Reuters by telephone.

He said local residents had reported that about 20 children, who had to cross the bridge on their way home from school, were still missing.

Officials said a school bus and other vehicles carrying children were among several vehicles that plunged into the water when the bridge collapsed.

Hundreds of people gathered at the scene in the evening and shouted slogans blaming the authorities for the collapse of the dilapidated structure, witnesses said.

"We will not spare the administration. We have been complaining repeatedly about the bridge, but nobody heard us. Now we have lost our children," local resident Umesh Patel told the news agency by telephone.

Motorcyclist Salim Anwar, 20, said he had been about to go on to the bridge when it collapsed.

"I heard a loud crack and saw people rushing toward me screaming 'the bridge is falling'," he said.

"I could hear cries of 'help, help' and I saw these rickshaws and the bus falling into the water. It was a terrible scene."

Daman's mayor, Vishal Tandel, said a 10-year old boy was pulled out alive two hours after the incident.

This is the latest tragedy to hit India in four days. On Monday, bombs planted in taxis killed 51 people in the country's financial capital Bombay, and on Wednesday stampeding pilgrims trampled at least 33 people to death at a Hindu festival in Western India.