By Sumit Khanna
AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) – Police in India on Friday charged 10 people with homicide in connection with the collapse of a colonial-era footbridge last year that killed at least 135 people, a top official told Reuters.
The 145-year-old suspension bridge in the town of Morbi was packed with sightseers when it collapsed on Oct. 30, plunging hundreds into the Machchhu river below. It had reopened after repairs just days before.
Most of the victims were women and children who drowned.
Police in the western state of Gujarat have issued an arrest warrant for the boss of the company that managed the bridge and on Friday named him as the main accused in a charge sheet filed in a Morbi court, said Ashok Kumar Yadav, a top state police official.
Jaysukh Patel, the managing director of the Oreva Group, best known for making clocks and electrical products, was absconding and a lookout circular was issued for him last week to prevent him from leaving the country, police said.
The Oreva Group did not respond to emailed queries seeking comment. Patel’s mobile phone was switched off and text messages sent to him could not be delivered.
Besides Patel, the more than 1,200-page charge sheet names two managers of the Oreva Group, two ticketing clerks, three security guards and two people from a firm contracted by Oreva to repair the bridge before it reopened to the public, said Yadav.
(Writing by Shivam Patel in New Delhi; Editing by Robert Birsel)