A team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and volunteers from local trekking groups worked through Saturday night till Sunday noon and retrieved the bodies of Dapoli Agriculture University staffers killed in the accident at Ambenali Ghat near Poladpur on Saturday.
By 11.30 am on Sunday, all 30 bodies had been found. “The rescue operation was over after we found the last body, that of Jayant Chowghule,” said Raigad district collector Vijay Suryawanshi.
Initially, 33 people were feared dead. But it became clear by Sunday morning that the bus was carrying 31 staff members of the university and of them, one person had survived. Two others who were initially believed to be inside the bus, had dropped out. One staff member’s name had appeared twice in the list of the those feared dead.
Vairav Nathan of the NDRF, who supervised the operation, said: “By the time we reached on Saturday evening, volunteers from the trekking groups had retrieved 14 bodies… We arranged for better accessibility to reach the wreckage of the bus. We also made arrangements for lights.”
Nathan said some bodies were stuck under the chassis of the bus and it was difficult to pull them out. “If we tried lifting the bus, there was a possibility that it would have fallen further down in the valley. We decided to cut its parts to reach those inside and below the vehicle. Seven bodies were found inside the bus,” said Nathan. The accident spot is about 130 km from Pune.
The Raigad district collector said the confusion over the number of passengers in the bus was because of the information provided by the only survivor, Prakash Sawant Desai.
“He was in a state of shock and we had no option but to rely on the information he gave us. It later emerged that two staffers, Shivdas Agre and Ravi Kiran Salvi, had dropped out. One of the victims was listed twice. Once as Rajendra Badambe and then again as Raju Badambe,” said Suryawanshi.