Eleven days after two state-run buses and some private vehicles were swept away, following the collapse of a British-era bridge over the Savitri river in Konkan’s Mahad, Navy teams Saturday located the wreckage of the second state transport bus. On August 11, rescuers had retrieved the wreckage of the other bus.
“The second bus was found upside down and it has collected silt which has made it heavy to remove out of the river,” said Anupam Shrivastav, Commandant, 5th Battalion, NDRF.
A Defence spokesperson said the Navy divers first noticed the wreckage about 400 meters from the collapsed bridge in an area where the water current was high. In fact, the strong river current is making it difficult for rescuers to recover the debris.
“The wreckage is completely submerged in around 5 metres depth,” said the Defence spokesperson.According to NDRF officials, the second bus is too heavy and two cranes were unable to pull it out of the water.“A new plan has been devised to retrieve the wreckage. A special crane has been ordered to lift it,” said an NDRF official.Meanwhile, fear is growing that some victims who have not been recovered might never be found.Search operations have so far retrieved 26 bodies, but 16 are still missing and feared dead in the tragedy, which took place on August 2.Teams have been searching for wreckages and survivors since the morning of August 4.
Raigad district officials, the Navy, the Coast Guard and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have all been part of the search operations.
The NDRF officials said the search operation for vehicles of officials was mainly confined to 500 metres from the bridge.
“These vehicles would not float. Beyond 500 metres in the river, the surface is filled with several boulders but before that point there were at least evident depressions for the vehicles to get stuck in. The second bus was found in one such depression,” Shrivastav added.
The strong water current and crocodile hotbeds in Savitri river have been impeding search operations. Following heavy rains upstream, the river water had been flowing at ten times the normal speed in the last week.
“The weather impeded our operations. The force of the river was such that divers found it difficult to navigate beyond 350 meters from the collapse site. The missing SUVs should also be in the same region,” Shrivastav said.