As many as 22 people are feared dead as the bridge across the Savitri River on the Mumbai-Goa highway collapsed on Tuesday night. Two Mumbai-bound buses are among the dozen or so vehicles that are believed to have fallen into the flooded river. The State Transport bus carried 18 passenger, two drivers and two conductors, all of whom are feared dead.
12 hours after the mishap, bodies of 2 victims have been found while the lateness of the hour and heavy rains in the area delayed rescue operations.
The bridge was constructed during the British era and links Mahad with Poladpur on the Mumbai Goa highway. Three teams of National Disaster Response Force of 80 personnel have reached the area and operations are underway. The Indian Coast Guard has also deployed Chetak helicopters – Sea King 42C and Sea King 42B to assist in the search. Traffic along the Mumbai Goa highway has been diverted and smaller vehicles have been directed to use the Mahgaon and two other routes.
PM Narendra Modi has spoken to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and offered all assistance where search and rescue operations are concerned while the State Transport department has appealed to relatives of missing passengers to contact helpline number (02141) 222118 and toll free number 1077.
The bridge which has collapsed, was inspected last in May. It had cleared the inspection and was declared fit for vehicular traffic. Sadly, it was not fit, it seems.