Rescue personnel today braved high water current and crocodile hotbeds in Savitri River to trace those missing after the bridge collapse near Mahad in Raigad district even as anxious relatives expressed anger over the pace of the search operation.
So far, 26 bodies have been recovered while nearly 14 are still missing and feared dead after two State Transport buses and some other vehicles fell in the river following the bridge collapse on Mumbai-Goa Highway on August 2.
The search teams have decided to continue the operation till they recover all the bodies and remains of swept away vehicles.
“Search operation is on like before with same positioning and deployment of the security forces. The crew of NDRF, Navy, Coast Guard and local divers are at work,” Raigad’s Residential Deputy Collector Satish Bagal said.
“We are not going to call off the (search) operations and will continue it,” Mr. Bagal said, adding that the District Collector and SP are monitoring the situation.
“As and when our agencies trace and recover a body or remains of vehicles, we are reporting about it to the disaster control room set up in Mumbai,” he said.
Senior officials as well as Chief Minister are keeping a close watch on the developments, he said.
On the reasons why security agencies failed to trace or recover more bodies and swept away vehicles, Mr. Bagal said the high current of muddy water was posing a challenge for the crew members.
Also, a few search areas are homes to crocodiles, therefore they have to take extra caution during their operation, he said.
“Once the water level recedes, the divers would be able to do their job at the best,” he said.
NDRF’s 5th battalion commandant Anupam Srivastava said his four teams, comprising 40 crew members each, were at work since morning.
Meanwhile, the Raigad administration has made arrangements for the lodging of nearly 100 kin of the victims who are camping at the site of the collapsed bridge.
Few relatives of the missing persons yesterday expressed anger over the failure to recover more bodies and vehicles swept away in the water.
“Yes, their anguish and despondency is obvious. That is why the senior officials of security agencies involved in search operation met the anxious kin of the victims and apprised them of the various efforts and techniques being used in the operation,” Bagal said.