NEW DELHI: Alleging administrative failure, the CPI(M) blamed the Gujarat government on Monday for the Morbi bridge collapse, which has resulted in the death of at least 134 people so far.
Rescue operations are in full swing at Morbi, around 300 km from Gujarat's capital Gandhinagar, with National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), Indian Air Force, Army and Navy teams joining local personnel in the efforts.
''Firstly, we express our deepest condolences for the incident. It has been a horrific tragedy. The death toll is increasing every hour. The state government's immediate priority should be to save as many lives as possible. But at the same time, the Gujarat government is answerable to various questions arising from this tragedy.
''Without safety measures, how was the bridge opened in the first place? You have a certain number of people who could stand on the bridge. Why was that limit crossed? Who are the people responsible for this tragedy? The government must be made accountable for this monumental tragedy,'' Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury told reporters on the sidelines of the party's three-day Central Committee meeting here.
Earlier, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge expressed a guarded reaction to the issue.
''We are very pained to know about what has happened and express our condolences. The victims' families must be fully compensated at the earliest. We demand an independent inquiry into the incident by a Supreme Court or a high court judge. We do not want to politicise the matter any further, so will not blame anyone at this stage,'' Kharge told reporters at the Congress headquarters here.
The more-than-a-century-old bridge on the Machchhu river in Morbi had reopened five days ago after extensive repairs and renovation. It was crammed with people when it collapsed around 6.30 pm on Sunday.