At least 29 people were missing since two buses and about 10 private vehicles fell into a swollen Savitri river after a British-era bridge was washed away near Mahad on the Mumbai-Goa national highway on Tuesday night.
The Coast Guard and the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Wednesday deployed choppers for the search operation.
According to sources, two male bodies were recovered, but central agencies didn’t confirm the news.
Recovery of those fallen into the river, alive or dead, seemed slim as the rescue operations may slow down post 5 pm as visibility diminishes. The force of the river also makes it tough for rescue boats to scour the area.
Experts said that it is likely that the victims and vehicles were washed into the sea.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who first tweeted about the tragedy at 2 am on Wednesday morning, called for a probe into the accident by competent authorities. He also announced a structural audit of all 36 colonial bridges along the Mumbai-Goa highway.
Read the story here : British-era bridge near Mahad washed away in floods, 29 feared dead
Below are the highlights :
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis visited the spot and ordered inquiry into the incident. Fadnavis said that the search operation will go on till all the missing persons are found.
Basant Kumar, who works in a garage on the banks of Savitri river, was the first to notice that the bridge had given way and informed police. The driver of a state transport bus stopped vehicles traffic on the highway and may have prevented a bigger disaster, HT Correspondent Yogesh Joshi reports from the spot.
People living nearby say that the British government had written a letter to the district administration in 2010 that the bridge at Mahad had completed 100 years and should not be used. The state public works minister has denied receiving any such letter .
The government has issued toll-free contact number (1077) for any details about people missing in the Mahad accident. People can also call up 02141-222118
Mahad recorded 230mm rain between 8.30am on Tuesday and 8.30am on Wednesday. Poladpur, which is located upstream, on the Savitri river recorded 260 mm rainfall. The Savitri river rises from the Mahabaleshwar plateau, which has recorded 390mm rain during the same period.
2: 05 PM
Contradicting statements emerge
While locals claim two bodies were recovered 8 km downstream from the bridge in the Savitri river, NDRF and other rescue agencies are saying no bodies were recovered so far. However, Raigad collector and the state public works minister Chandrakant Patil said that two male bodies have been recovered but identities were not yet confirmed.
State authorities expressed concern saying the vehicles may have travelled as far as 35 km down the river.
2: 00 PM
Twelve of the 17 passengers who are suspected to have been washed away in the flood with the two MSRTC buses, have been identified. A family of five who live in the city are among them. Read more about the passengers here - 12 passengers identified from the Mahad tragedy, five of a family among them
1: 52 PM
Pictures of the collapsed bridge and the rescue operations are here.
1: 46 PM
More information coming in, meanwhile, read five things you have to know about the Mahad bridge collapse published by our Mumbai bureau here.
1: 44 PM
The old bridge remained in use even while a newly constructed bridge runs parallel to it, our reporter Kunal Purohit tweets.
Guilty officials and minister Chandrakant Patil must be sent to trial for murder,” Ajit Pawar says in the assembly while discussing the bridge collapse.
“The government was planning to demolish the bridge in December this year,” PWD minister Chandrakant Patil tells reporters.
“The bridge was built 100 years ago but we allowed traffic on it because locals wanted it to be used,” Patil adds.
The bridge was tested for stability in the month of May and was found fit to use, Patil informs reporters .
14 hours after the bridge collapse, authorities have no idea of how many cars, people fell into the river, our reporter Kunal Purohit reports from Mumbai.
Both the missing ST buses were heading to Mumbai, one from Rajapur and the other from Jaigad.
According to Presley Thomas, our crime reporter in Mumbai, an all weather aircraft with a diving team was launched by the Indian Navy. Also a National Disaster Response Force team comprising of divers, swimmers, boats and rescue equipments was sent to Mahad.
According to reports at least two persons drowned and 20 others are missing as two buses swept away after the collapse.