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Raigad bus accident: With 30 bodies recovered, NDRF concludes operation after 24 hours

On July 28, a mini-bus, carrying employees of Dapoli-based Dr Balasaheb Sawant Krishi Vidyapeeth, fell into an 800-foot gorge off Ambenali ghat in Raigad district.

india Updated: Jul 30, 2018 12:09 IST
Shalaka Shinde
Shalaka Shinde
Hindustan Times, Poladpur (Raigad)
Raigad,Raigad bus accident,NDRF
Local residents and NGOs helped NDRF and fire department in the rescue operation which went on for more than 24 hours. (Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

Battling difficult terrain, unfavourable weather and poor light for over 24 hours, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) concluded the strenuous search and rescue operation in Poladpur on Sunday afternoon. The NDRF recovered 30 bodies with the help of local trekker groups, doctors and residents. The bodies were handed over to relatives at the district hospital.

On Saturday, a mini-bus, carrying employees of Dapoli-based Dr Balasaheb Sawant Krishi Vidyapeeth, fell into an 800-foot gorge off Ambenali ghat in Raigad district.

Besides the NDRF, the state reserve police force (SRPF), local police, fire department and paramedical staff were working for over 24 hours at the spot. “We had ropes, helmets and electrical equipment in place before the NDRF arrived. The operation which started at around 11am on Saturday was over by noon on Sunday,” said Vijay Suryavanshi, Raigad district collector.

By Sunday noon, all 30 bodies had reached the rural hospital of Poladpur, Raigad and by 1:30pm, the road was open for vehicular traffic as the crane installed to pull the bodies up was removed. “A basic post-mortem was performed and the bodies were handed over to the relatives,” said Suresh Khopkar, tehsildar.

An official enquiry will be launched to map the cause of the incident and to see if anyone was at fault. However for now, the incident was recorded as a fatal accident report at the Poladpur police station under the Raigad police jurisdiction and it will remain so until a detailed report in the incident is filed, according to the official statement of the Raigad police.

Before the NDRF arrived, rescuers were descending the gorge and wrapping the bodies in nets before pulling them up with ropes one by one. On the second day, the NDRF used their equipment to recover the remaining bodies trapped under bus parts.

To retrieve the bodies stuck in the mangled remains of the bus, NDRF teams used cutters to dismantle the vehicle. The bodies were pulled out of the gorge with the help of a crane. The rescue teams had initially managed to trace 14 bodies. However, it took nearly six hours to pull out the rest of the bodies owing to the fact that it is a thick forested area, said an official of the district administration.

Local rescue groups including, Sindhi community organisations, residents working in personal capacity and trekkers’ groups from Mahabaleshwar, Khed, Kolhapur, Dapoli, Chiplun helped with the operation.

“Members of an entire department, who occupy one floor of the college were wiped out. They usually take this trip every year at this time (for semi-official purpose),” said a youngster who was helping with the procedure of retrieving the bodies and is the son of a person who works in another department at the university.

“We had two drivers on the bus, both who were employees of the university. One was Sandeep Zagde, 36, and the other one was Prashant Bhambid, 33. Both of them had over five years of driving experience,” said KJ Chaudhury, registrar of Dr Balasaheb Sawant Kokan Krushi Vidyapeeth.

First Published: Jul 30, 2018 08:30 IST