Search and rescue operations resumed on Saturday after a day of heavy rain hampered efforts to find the victims of the bridge collapse on the Mumbai-Goa highway near Mahad.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Indian Coast Guard officials have thus far been unable to locate any of the missing vehicles believed to have fallen in the river despite using various techniques, including electronic sensors, fishfinders (sonar devices), and massive magnets to trace the metal bodies.
The rain-swollen Savitri river washed away a 100-year-old bridge at Mahad, 170 km south of Mumbai, on Tuesday night, taking with it two buses and at least one SUV.
Stepping up rescue efforts, divers were deployed in areas where currents weren’t strong on Saturday.
“The water level in the river has gone down as there was no rain on Friday night,” said an NDRF official. “We hope we will make some major developments as the weather seems to be in our favour today. We are putting maximum efforts to find the missing people. Our officials are operating in a stretch of our 40 km in the river today too.”
By Friday night, as many as 22 bodies had been recovered within 15 kilometres from the bridge.
The NDRF commandant Anupam Srivastav told Hindustan Times that his team is hoping that remaining bodies will be located in the next two to three days as they too will float on the surface. “There is no possibility that bodies are still stuck inside the vehicles. We will be able to trace them in the next two to three days once they start floating.”
The NDRF commandant said his team had extended the area of search operations up to 40 kilometres from the accident spot with fishing nets installed across the bridges over the river.
Raigad, Ratnagiri and state highway police too have joined operations to find the missing people in various parts of Maharashtra.