Raigad (Maharashtra), Aug 5 (IANS) Seven more bodies of the victims of a bridge collapse on the Mumbai-Goa highway were recovered by search teams on Friday morning, taking the total bodies found so far to 21.
Seventeen bodies have been identified and handed over to families after autopsy.
Two buses of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), a private Tavera, a Honda City and another three-wheeler were washed away in the Savitri river after the British era bridge collapsed early on Wednesday near Mahad in Raigad district of Maharashtra.
On Thursday, Raigad Deputy Collector Satish Vagal said at least 42 persons are feared missing and washed away.
For over 60 hours, a massive search operation on land, river, creek and the Arabian Sea, which is 18 km away, has been underway since to look for the missing persons.
The operations have been undertaken by the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, National Disaster Response Force, local police and fire brigade. Local fishermen and volunteers of diving clubs have joining in the efforts.
However, the operations continued to be hampered by heavy rains in the district, increasing the water level in the Savitri river.
Since Thursday morning, search teams helped by local fisherfolks have been finding bodies of victims at regular intervals, some swept away over a hundred km into the sea.
Defence authorities had procured large magnets weighing around 300 kg for the underwater search in the muddied waters to detect the missing vehicles, but the efforts have been in vain so far.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, his ministers and Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil airdashed to the tragedy site on Wednesday and met Collector Sheetal Ugale and Superintendent of Police Suvez Haque.
The state government announced Rs 10 lakh for families of each victim and a like amount or a job in MSRTC for family members of the corporation’s staff like drivers and bus conductors and others travelling on the two buses.
Fadnavis also announced a judicial probe and ordered a structural safety audit of all old bridges on the busy Mumbai-Goa highway before the coming 10-day Ganeshotsav festival.