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Mahad bridge collapse: 10 bodies recovered

Authorities have been blamed for ignoring warnings that the load-bearing bridge had seen its day. Photo Courtesy: Ministry of Defence

Authorities have been blamed for ignoring warnings that the load-bearing bridge had seen its day. Photo Courtesy: Ministry of Defence  

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38 persons feared to have been washed away; Fadnavis orders repair of Mumbai-Goa National Highway.

Ten bodies, believed to be victims of the Mahad Bridge collapse tragedy, were retrieved on Thursday, as the biggest search operation in recent memory in Maharashtra’s Konkan division drew to a close.

Disaster management officials at Mahad confirmed that eight bodies had been identified. Three of them are women.

Some of the bodies were sighted in Ratnagiri district, more than 100 km downstream. At least 38 persons are now feared to have been washed away into the Arabian Sea. The Colonial-era Bridge on the Mumbai-Goa Highway caved in around midnight on Tuesday after an incessant downpour that lashed the Konkan caused River Savitri to swell. Two State Transport buses and a number of private vehicles, unable to see the ruptured span, plunged into the raging floodwaters.

24 victims in 2 buses

Authorities confirmed that 24 people, including the crew, were in the two buses. The body of S.S. Kamble, who was driving the Jaigarh-Mumbai bus, was discovered at the Anjarle beach on Thursday morning. “Mr. Kamble’s relatives have identified the body,” Sandeep Kadam, Tehsildar, Mahad, told The Hindu.

P.B. Shirke, conductor on the Rajapur-Borivali bus, was retrieved from a place close to the site of the tragedy near Dadali village.

The bodies of Sneha Baikar and Awaid Chowgule were found within a five-km radius of the site of the collapse. The body of Jaywanti Mirgal (70) was discovered in the popular coastal tourist spot of Harihareshwar, more than 80 km away. The body of Ms. Sampada Vaze (37) was recovered from Kemburli, around 6 km away. Both Ms. Vaze and Ms. Mirgal were part of the same family travelling in a Tavera SUV.

The body of another bus passenger, Prashant Mane, was found at Toradi, more than 40 km from the accident spot.

“The eighth victim, identified as Pandurang Ghag, was not a passenger in either of the buses or the missing Tavera. We believe he was washed away with his vehicle,” said Sagar Phatak, a local disaster management cell official.

The NDRF, the Navy, the Air Force and the Coast Guard are sparing no effort in their search for those missing. On Wednesday, a 300 kg magnet was lowered into the river to locate the two buses. “The magnet has to be used cautiously lest it damage an underwater pipeline, which might trigger another crisis,” said Anupam Srivastava, Commandant, NDRF, 5th Battalion, based in Pune.

Considerable danger

While the downpour has eased a little, the swirling waters of the river continued to pose considerable danger to the rescuers. On Thursday morning, a boat carrying NDRF personnel capsized. The divers had to be rescued by a chopper.

“This is the breeding season of crocodiles. We are therefore seeking the help of the local guides provided to us by the district administration,” said Mr. Srivastava.

Weather-beaten bridge

The Colonial-era bridge on the Mumbai-Goa Highway caved in around Tuesday midnight owing to an incessant downpour, which lashed the Konkan during the last 72 hours, causing the river to swell and maul the weather-beaten bridge.

Two State Transport buses, and a number of private vehicles, unable to see the ruptured span, plunged into the raging floodwaters below.

Every operational mode and device has been thrown in by the combined forces of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Navy, the Air Force and the Coast Guard to trace the missing. Since Wednesday evening, a 300 kg magnet was lowered into the river waters to trace the buses.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has directed the NHAI to immediately undertake repair work on the Mumbai-Goa National Highway and complete the work before August 25.

"This repair work should be done immediately, before the coming Ganesh festival," he said.

While the downpour relaxed its fury on the rescue personnel, the swirling currents of the river continued to pose considerable hazards to the rescuers. On Thursday morning, a boat carrying NDRF personnel capsized. The divers had to be rescued by a chopper.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 4:29:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/Mahad-bridge-collapse-10-bodies-recovered/article14551026.ece

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