The search for the missing passengers continues on Thursday, following the collapse of a bridge on Mumbai-Goa highway late Tuesday night. Post the incident, around 30 people are believed to be missing and five bodies have been found.
The incident happened around 11:30 pm on Tuesday, when a British-era bridge across the Savitri river gave in and collapsed under the river. The bridge was located 5 km from Mahad in Raigad District and around 160 km from Mumbai.
At least 7-8 private vehicles and two Mumbai-bound state transport buses are believed to have fallen in the river. The ST buses with nine passengers and two drivers & conductors each started from Chiplun and fell into the ditch caused by the collapsed bridge. The buses were Borivali – Rajapur (MH 40 N 9739) and Jaigad – Mumbai (MH 20 BL 1538).
In addition, relatives of two families have come forth and claimed that their kin, who were travelling from Guhaghar to Mumbai in a Tavera, have been missing since Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, four National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams comprising of 115 personnel were conducting rescue operation with the help of 12 boats, Navy’s all weather aircraft and 2 helicopters. The operations resulted in the recovery of two bodies on Wednesday.
Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis also arrived in Mahad around 4 pm in the evening to take stock of the situation.
The operations were ceased around 6 pm due to bad light and resumed around 7 am today with 25 Navy cadets and 50 NDRF personnel. The NDRF team is also using a 300 kg magnet to detect metal objects like cars and bus.
As of 11 am today, a total of three bodies have been recovered. Raigad collector Sheetal Ugale confirmed that the body of Srikant Kamble, who was driving the Jaigad-Mumbai state transport bus, was recovered from Anjarle beach, 150 km from the site.
A second body of a woman was found at Harihareshwar beach, about 60 kilometers from Mahad, while another body was found near the banks of a river near Kemburli village, situated 5-7 km from Savitri river.
According to preliminary investigation, the high pressure caused by the flooding of the Savitri river due to heavy rains in Mahabaleshwar led to the bridge’s collapse. On Tuesday, Mahad recorded 230 mm rainfall, whereas Poladpur, located upstream on the Savitri river, recorded 260 mm rainfall. The Mahabaleshwar plateau recorded 390 mm rain during the same period.
The traffic situation has normalized today and vehicles are being allowed to use the newer bridge to cross the Savitri river.
The state government also set up a help line to assist those seeking information. The helpline numbers are (02141) 222118 and 1077 (toll free).
Update (12:30 pm): Apart from Shrikant Kamble, the other two bodies recovered today have also been indentified. The body found near Kemburli is of Sampada Vaze (aged around 40) and the body found on Harihareshwar beach was of Shevanti Mirgal (aged 65). Both are believed to be passengers of the missing Tavera.
Update (1:20 pm): Another body of a male, aged around 25, has been found near Dadli. The area is located 10 km from Savitri river.