The National Crime Records Bureau’s annual ‘Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India’ report provides data relating to the accidents in the country, including the figures for accidents involving bridge collapses. The number of incidents of Bridge Collapse has reduced considerably over the years.
On 30 October 2022, a suspension bridge over a river in the city of Morbi, Gujarat collapsed, resulting in around 140 deaths and more than 180 injured. The bridge was a 19th-century structure, that was reopened 5 days prior to the incident, following a lengthy closure for repairs.
The bridge was a pedestrian bridge and initial reports suggest that there were more people on the bridge at the time of collapse than what it can hold. The investigation is currently on, and an FIR was registered against the maintenance and management agencies of the bridge.
This incident has once again brought to the fore discussion around the construction and maintenance of the public utility structures like bridges and similar such incidents in the past.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)’s annual ‘Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India’ (ADSI) report provides data relating to accidents in the country, including the figures for accidents involving bridge collapses. Here is a look at the trend over the years regarding bridge collapses in the country.
Decline in the number of accidents due to ‘Collapse of Structure’
Accidents relating to the Collapse of a Bridge are categorised under the Collapse of a Structure in the ADSI report. The category also includes the collapse of other structures such as Residential buildings, Commercial buildings, Dams, etc. Compared to the other structures in the category, the accidents relating collapse of bridges are fewer. The major share of accidents in this category is the collapse of residential buildings.
In 2021, there were 1576 recorded accidents relating to the Collapse of structures, out of which 1158 incidents were related to the collapse of residential buildings. There is an increase compared to 2020 when 1481 cases of collapse of structures were reported. However, a declining trend in the number of accidents reported due to the collapse of structures is observed over the years. During the 10-year period of 2012-2021, the highest number of such incidents was reported in 2013 with 3074 cases.
Number of Accidents due to Collapse of Bridge has reduced
There is a significant drop in the number of accidents due to the collapse of bridges. As per the latest ADSI report for 2021, there were 8 cases of Accidents due to the collapse of the bridge in the year 2021 compared to 9 such incidents in 2020. While there has been a varying trend in the number of cases recorded each year, there is a considerable decline in the number of such reported incidents.
In 2012 & 2013, 45 cases were recorded each year. The number of cases had a sharp fall in the next year with 16 cases. The highest number of cases in the subsequent years, was 23 in the year 2019, followed by 22 in 2015.
Fewer Deaths and Low Death Rate in accidents due to Collapse of Bridge
The reduced number of accidents due to the collapse of bridges is also reflected in the number of deaths recorded. In 2012, accidents due to the collapse of bridges resulted in 64 deaths. There were 53 deaths reported in the next year. However, in the subsequent year, there have been comparatively fewer deaths due to fewer accidents.
In 2016, a total of 47 deaths were recorded in these accidents. Compared to the year 2015, there is a higher number of deaths although the number of accidents was lower. During the 10-year period, 2016 had the highest fatality rate i.e., deaths per accident. The figure is 2.47 in 2016. In 2012, which recorded the highest number of fatalities, this rate was 1.42.
In recent years, there was not only a fall in the number of fatalities, but the fatality rate is also lower. It ought to be noted that, deaths are dependent on the severity of a particular incident and a singular incident can contribute majorly to the total number of deaths in a year.
There is a higher prevalence of deaths in accidents due to the collapse of bridges among males. During the period 2012-2021, out of the 285 deaths recorded, 239 were males.
There is also a decline in the number of people injured. In 2012, a total of 53 people were injured. A lower number of injured victims was recorded in the subsequent years. There were no injuries from the accidents in 2015, 2016 and 2021, although the incidents resulted in deaths.
Jharkhand reported the highest number of Accidents due to collapse of Bridge
Among the states, the highest number of accidents due to the Collapse of Bridges was reported from Jharkhand. ADSI report provides a State-wise break-up of the accidents due to the collapse of bridges in recent years.
In 2021, out of the 8 accidents across the country, 5 were in Jharkhand. Even in earlier years, Jharkhand consistently had the highest number of accidents due to bridge collapses. The only exception was in 2019 when 7 such incidents were reported in Jharkhand and 8 in Bihar.
Figures from recent years indicate that Jharkhand and Bihar have the highest number of such accidents. During the 2016-2021 period (2017 is not included as State-wise information for accidents due to the collapse of bridges is not provided), there were 34 accidents recorded in Jharkhand.
Recent accident in Morbi has the highest death toll.
As per the latest reports, the recent bridge collapse in Morbi, Gujarat has resulted in the death of around 140 people. As highlighted earlier, the trend of the number of deaths varies across the years due to the nature of accidents. One severe incident could have led to more deaths. Over the past 10 years, there have been multiple accidents that have resulted in a larger death toll.
In 2019, there were 26 deaths reported in the country. The Mumbai foot-over bridge collapse resulted in the death of 6 people that year. In 2016 there were 29 deaths due to the British-era bridge collapse across the Savitri River on the Mumbai-Goa highway. The total number of deaths as per the ADSI report in 2016 was 47. It ought to be noted that nearly 26 deaths were caused due to the Kolkata flyover collapse in the same year.
In 2011, a bridge collapse in Darjeeling resulted in the death of 32 people. Just a week after this incident, there was a foot-over bridge collapse in Arunachal Pradesh, resulting in the death of at least 30 people. The recent Morbi bridge collapse is the most fatal in the past 15 years.
Featured Image: Collapse of Bridges