When the Navy’s divers on Thursday brought up parts of the buses from the Savitri river without bodies in them, the relatives of the victims lost the little hope they were holding on to.
As search and rescue teams failed to recover any more bodies 10 days after the century-old bridge on the Mumbai-Goa highway, hit by relentless rain, collapsed with at least 40 people in two buses and a private vehicle, the relatives of those still missing started returning homes.
“The administration, NDRF and the Navy worked hard, but our relatives could not be found. We have decided to go home and perform their last rites,” said Pramod Surve, the brother-in-law of Vilas Desai, a bus conductor on one of the buses.
The government and NDRF teams, however, said the search for the missing will go on for a few more days. “We will continue our search operation till we receive further orders,” said Anupan Srivastava, Commandant, NDRF. According to a government report, there were at least 40 people in the two buses and the private vehicle. Search teams have so far recovered 26 bodies.
On Friday morning, the waiting families performed the last rites on the banks of the Savitri, which had relented a bit after being swollen for more than a fortnight owing to heavy rains.
For the relatives, recovery of the bus wreckage was the last major hope, as they thought some of the bodies may have been trapped in them. “When we heard about the bus wreckage, it rekindled some hope. But as the broken parts of bus were pulled out, we saw no bodies, lost hope and decided to leave,” Surve said.
Another relative, who had come from Mumbai, said, “We are leaving with a heavy heart. We pray to god that what we suffered, no one else should.”