The Mahad tehsildar’s office Saturday joined the search for missing persons swept away in the Savitri river, more than 72 hours after a bridge collapsed and sent at least three vehicles into the water. So far, 24 bodies have been found.
“We have to find bodies of the remaining passengers today,” said Mahendra Patil, Residential Nayab Tehsildar, Mahad, adding, “The longer the search operations continue, the worse the condition of the bodies will be.”
The tehsildar’s office is afraid that crocodiles will attack bodies floating down the river. “So far the crocodiles haven’t touched a single body, but once they do, there will be nothing to return to the families,” he said.
Forty personnel have been sent to comb the river bank along Mahad, Mandangad, Shrivardhan and Dapoli talukas. “Other agencies are working in the river and we are looking for bodies that may have washed up on the banks,” he said.
The water level in the river had also not dipped sufficiently to allow the Coast Guard and the National Disaster Response Force to conduct full-fledged operations.
On Saturday afternoon, a plastic signboard from one of the two state transport buses was found in the river by Naval divers near the Visava Riverside Hotel, little more than a kilometer from the site of the accident. Diving operations were then concentrated at the stretch of the river near the hotel.