Mahad bridge collapse: Navy locates wreckage of two buses after 8-day search
In a search operation that lasted eight days, Navy divers on Thursday spotted the wreckage of the two buses which were washed away in the Savitri River near Mahad after a British-era bridge collapsed on August 2.
"After working 12-14 hours a day for the last 8 days, the Naval teams have located wreckage of the two bus buses submerged in water at Mahad," a Defence spokesperson said.
"The wreckage seem to be parts of buses and were found approximately 170 and 200 meters from the collapsed bridge. Spot diving was carried out despite presence of crocodiles, high current and tough conditions in the river,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
"The NDRF teams are being informed and crane for recovery of the wreckage is being requested," he added.
Defence PRO Rahul Sinha later told ANI that the Navy was looking at how to undertake extraction of wreckage that had been recovered.
The Indian Navy team comprising personnel specialising in diving have been searching for the wreckage and survivors since the morning of August 4.
The effort was in response to a request received from the state government for undertaking search along the river for survivors and bodies, he said.
So far, 26 bodies have been recovered after two State Transport buses and some other vehicles fell in the river following the bridge collapse on Mumbai-Goa Highway near Mahad in Raigad district, about 170 kms from here, on August 2.
The British-era bridge was to be dismantled in December 2016 as part of Mumbai-Goa Highway expansion project, Maharashtra government said yesterday.
"The bridge was to be dismantled in December 2016 as part of Mumbai-Goa Highway widening project. However, it unfortunately got washed away due to heavy rainfall in upper regions of Mahabaleshwar (from where the river originates)," PWD Minister Chandrakant Patil had said yesterday.
Patil had said there are about 2,300 bridges in the state, of which 100-odd are from the British era and from the time of 17th century warrior-king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
"All these bridges will be inspected twice every year. A three-member committee of experts from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) has commenced its study about the collapsed bridge and the report is expected by the next Cabinet meeting due on August 23," he said yesterday.
The process of launching judicial inquiry into the crash is also underway, Patil said adding that "a workshop will be conducted for the PWD engineers for methodology to be used for inspection of the bridges."
On solatium to the deceased, he said the State Cabinet, in this particular case, has reduced the waiting period for granting compensation to next to the kin to two months (from seven years as per existing rules), he said.
If the missing people are not traced within two months, the State will declare them dead and award solatium.
He said Maharashtra State Road Development Corp has given a compensation of Rs 14 lakh each to the kin of deceased travelling in the ST buses and Rs 10 lakh each to the family of deceased in other vehicles involved in the tragedy.
(With PTI inputs)