With rescuers finding three more bodies in the rubble, the death toll in the collapse of a bridge under construction across the Chambal in Rajasthan’s Kota district rose to 35 on Tuesday.

The search for bodies in the river made no headway, even as 10 persons were still said to be missing.

Experts from the National Disaster Response Force and the National Institute of Oceanography are working out a strategy for underwater operations to look for labourers who are now presumed dead, five days after the tragedy.

The bridge was being built by an Indian company and a South Korean firm, at a height of 50 metre on the river, in the proposed East-West Corridor. It collapsed on Thursday when 50 labourers were at work.

Technical reasons

National Highways Authority of India Chairman Brijeshwar Singh, who visited the site on Monday, said there seemed to be “some technical reasons” for the collapse. The facts would be known only after the debris was removed and investigation completed.

Examining the iron ropes recovered from the wreckage, a four-member committee appointed by the NHAI would check the quality of iron and other materials used in the construction, he said.

Asked whether the two firms would be blacklisted, Mr. Singh told journalists that the NHAI would follow the “procedure based on evidence.” The bridge project was likely to be delayed by 9-12 months and expected be completed by the end of 2011.

Rajasthan Home Minister Shanti Dhariwal, who reviewed the rescue work, said a platform would be erected on the river banks for a heavy crane to remove debris of the partially submerged bridge.