Other States

‘I was screaming for other vehicles to stop’

When I discovered that the bridge no longer existed, I was screaming for the other vehicles to stop. I saw three cars, of the Wagon R type, plunge into the water and tried calling 100, to no avail.” Basant Kumar Mishra’s words capture the horror of the situation.

Mr. Mishra, a driver, was among those on the road that night who took the initiative to warn other vehicles, thus preventing further tragedies.

At the Chiplun ST bus depot, from where the two missing buses had taken off, anxious relatives waited for news of their loved ones.

Avinash Malap, one of the missing passengers, was returning to Mumbai after having escorted his mother to Jaigarh. “He regularly gave us updates till he reached Chiplun. But when we tried calling him around midnight, he did not reply,” said his wife, Rekha Malap. Mr. Malap’s son, Paarth, while sensing something ominous, only hopes daddy returns soon.

A tearful Sameer Balekar said, “My sister Snehal Baikar was accompanied by her husband Sunil, her sister Deepali, and her brother-in-law Bhushan Baikar. My heart missed a beat when the news flashed today morning. We have been trying to get in touch with them ever since. Hope is the only weapon I now have to combat this terrifying helplessness.”

Vilas Waghu, whose relative was on the bus heading to Borivali, told The Hindu that the news of the tragedy has numbed his senses. “I am too stunned to speak. I only hope these politicians take notice of such warnings and avert such disasters in the future.”

One of the missing vehicles, a Tavera carrying seven member of the Kambli family, including a child, had last halted at Poladpur; their relatives had lost contact with them around the time the bridge collapse is said to have happened. “We were shocked when we added two and two and came to the painful conclusion that our relatives may have gone missing in the tragedy,” said Ashish Bhalekar, a relative of the family.

A Mahad resident, Kiran Shilimkar, said, “It has been raining with increasing force for the last 72 hours. The last time we witnessed nature’s fury was in 2005 when the waters of the Savitri submerged the bridge.”

Mr. Shilimkar, who was aiding the search operations during the day, blamed the authorities for ignoring the warnings of the British that the colonial-era bridge had long outlived its safe days. “The administration and the bickering politicians should have taken cognizance and halted traffic,” he said. “This tragedy was eminently avoidable.”

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 12:56:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/%E2%80%98I-was-screaming-for-other-vehicles-to-stop%E2%80%99/article14550785.ece

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