Bridge collapse in Kashmir kills girl, injures at least 70

People crowd near a steel footbridge which collapsed during the Baisakhi fair in Udhampur, near Jammu, India, Friday, April, 14, 2023. (AP Photo)

An overcrowded footbridge collapsed into a rocky river in Indian-controlled Kashmir while thronged with more than 100 people celebrating a festival, killing a 10-year-old girl and injuring at least 70 people, authorities said Friday.

Police and relief teams rushed to the low metal bridge, which could not withstand the weight of the revelers celebrating the spring harvest season, said Joginder Singh, a civil administrator in Udhampur district. The narrow bridge’s maximum capacity was around three dozen, he said.

The girl died after being taken to a hospital, and at least seven people were in critical condition, Singh said.

The bridge’s red railings and green deck lay twisted across the riverbed following the collapse, as onlookers stood on the banks or waded into the water. A white-domed Hindu temple sat nearby beside the river, flanked by forested hills.

At the hospital, a young woman grimaced in pain as she was carried by two civilians who appeared to be helping with the rescue efforts.

Shoddy construction and over-loading are often to blame for bridge and building collapses in India.

In October, at least 132 people died when a century-old suspension bridge collapsed into a river in the western state of Gujarat, sending hundreds plunging into the water. It was one of the the country’s worst accidents in the past decade.

Kashmir sits high in the rugged Himalayan mountain range, and India and Pakistan each claim the divided territory in its entirety.