Even as the authorities claim to have taken all possible to steps to trace the missing vehicles and the people travelling in them in the Savitri River in Mahad, they manage to recover only two bodies on Saturday, taking the number of bodies recovered up to 24.
While the first body was recovered from Ambet, which is around 25 km from Mahad, the second body was found at Mandangad, some 60 km away from the accident spot. The second body, which is of a man, is yet to be identified.
Some local residents claimed to have seen one body under the Mhapral bridge (around 35 km from the spot). However, the current took it away after sometime as there were no officials to recover it. The residents said they were ill-equipped to get the body out of the river.
The Indian Coast Guard and the NDRF personnel put all their efforts to trace the missing vehicles until evening. However, they did not achieve success. “All news of vehicle parts being recovered are just rumours,” an NDRF official said.
Officials from the Raigad Collectors office told Hindustan Times that according to their records only three vehicles i.e. two ST buses and one Travera, were washed away after the bridge collapsed. “We have confirmed that no Honda City was moving on the bridge when the accident took place,” an official said.
The NDRF officials concentrated mostly in the area between the accident spot and the Dadri bridge, located on the same river around three km away.
“Operations are going on in full swing and we don’t have any plan to call it off unless all missing people and the vehicles are traced. On Saturday, we used sound wave technology to check the depth of the river and the thing lying on it. But we have not been able to trace any vehicle or any of its parts so far,” said Anupam Srivastav, commandant of NDRF.
“The distance between the pillars of Dadri bridge is just 14 feet and it is a rare possibility that the vehicles will go beyond that. And hence we are concentrating mainly in that area to find the vehicles,” he said.
“The worst part is that we have not been able to reach the centre of the river in this stretch because of the strong currents. The water level in the river has gone down on Saturday because of less rain, but the river is still not an easy thing to negotiate with,” he further said.
Union minister Ramdas Athawale and Thane guardian minister Eknath Shinde visited the accident spot and also interacted with the family members of the missing people at the help centre. “We have ensured that people in the centre get all basic amenities and that they don’t face any problem here,” Athawale said.
Eknath Shinde told the media that operations will be continued until the last person is recovered.
Meanwhile, the Indian Coast Guard officials have been looking for the missing people in the Arabian sea in two ships. “We are using all methods like fish-finding machines, magnets and hooks in the sea. But nothing has been traced till now,” said one Coast Guard official.
Over 300 Coast Guard personnel are participating in the operations.
The Raigad police, Ratnagiri police and the state highway police are also looking for the missing people in different parts of the state.