A 300 kg magnet was lowered this morning into the swollen Savitri River to trace two buses carrying 22 people who were swept away by the river after a British-era bridge collapsed near Mahad in Raigad district. Navy divers have resumed operations this morning, a Defense spokesperson said, adding, Chetak helicopter of Coast Guard also began sortie of the affected area on Thursday.
A crane lowered a 300 kg magnet into the river Thursday morning, with the hope of tracing missing vehicles. Something has got stuck to the magnet and efforts are on to pull it out of the river, a local official said. Two state-run buses carrying 22 people went missing in the incident that took place late Tuesday near Mahad, 170 kms from Mumbai. No survivors or bodies have been recovered despite a gruelling 14-hour search and rescue operation on Wednesday. Besides the two buses, several other vehicles were also believed to have fallen into the swollen river.
Earlier, there were reports that two bodies were recovered during the massive search. However, district police later clarified that no bodies were found till last night. “That was a false alarm, no body has been recovered till now. That (report of recovery of bodies) was a false call,” Additional SP of Raigad district Sachin Patil had said late last evening.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena on Thursday questioned the logic behind giving all-clear certificate for the bridge three months ago. “On what basis was the traffic worthiness certificate for the British-era bridge given in May,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ asked. All British-era bridges should now make way for new bridges. Only then can it be said that we have learnt our lesson, it said.
On Wednesday, 28 Marine Commandos, over 100 jawans from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and 25 personnel from the Coast Guard were pressed into search and rescue operation. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis accompanied by PWD Minister Chnadrakant Patil and opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil of Congress, conducted an aerial survey of the area on the same day. According to district officials, one of the buses was proceeding to Mumbai from Jaigad in Raigad, and the other was on its way to Borivali (Mumbai) from Rajapur.