Bus wreckage of Maharashtra bridge tragedy found

Raigad (Maharashtra), Aug 11 (IANS) Battling strong currents and crocodiles, Indian Navy divers on Thursday located two pieces of wreckage of one of the two ill-fated State Transport buses which were washed away on August 3 when a bridge on raging Savitri river in Mahad collapsed due to floods.

“After a long search and working for 12-14 hours daily for the last eight days, naval teams have located two bus wreckage submerged in the waters at Mahad,” a Defence spokesperson said here.

The two large pieces comprise the chassis and roof of one of the two buses which were missing for eight days.

“Naval drivers carried out spot diving despite presence of crocodiles, high water currents and tough conditions in the river. The currents are still strong,” the spokesperson added.

Finally, the wreckage was fully submerged in about 4-6 metres of water and located around 170-200 metre away from the collapsed bridge site on the busy Mumbai-Goa Highway.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was informed of the development. However, it is still not clear if there are any bodies trapped in the wreckage fished out by NDRF cranes this evening, the official said.

Earlier, some suspected metal parts and a number-plate were recovered, but it could not be established whether they belonged to the buses originating from Jaigad and Rajapur for Mumbai.

The bridge collapse also resulted in at least another four-five private vehicles being washed away in the heavy rains and floods, claiming an estimated 42 lives.

Billed as one of the worst road tragedies in the state on the seven-decade-old British-era bridge, rescuers have managed to recover only 26 bodies so far, some were found washed away over 100 km in the Arabian Sea, officials said.

A mega search operation on land, river, creek and in Arabian Sea was launched with the Indian Navy, Indian Air Force, Indian Coast Guard, NDRF, Maharashtra Police and local fire-brigade, private adventure clubs and even the fisherfolk to trace out the victims of the multiple vehicles tragedy.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and other Ministers and officials visited the site.

Later, Union Minister for Shipping Nitin Gadkari announced that a new bridge would be constructed on the spot within six months.

–IANS

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