Mumbai, Aug. 4: The body of the driver of one of the missing buses and of a woman were recovered on Thursday morning, thereby increasing the death toll in the Mumbai-Goa highway bridge collapse to four. Two bodies were yesterday found after a British-era bridge collapsed on the highway in Maharashtra earlier on August 2 following torrential rain.Also Read - Assam: Over 30 Students Injured As Hanging Bridge Collapses In Karimganj District
Navy divers have resumed operations this morning, a Defence spokesperson said, adding, Chetak helicopter of Coast Guard also began sortie of the affected area today. A crane lowered a 300 kgs magnet into the river this 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. 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 yesterday. (ALSO READ: Mumbai-Goa highway bridge collapse: Narendra Modi speaks to Devendra Fadnavis, assured full Central aid) Also Read - Maharashtra Rains: Death Toll Rises Over 60, Uddhav Thackeray Announces Ex-gratia of Rs 5 Lakh | Key Points
Prakash Mehta, the Guardian Minister of Raigad district, yesterday said as many as two buses and five-six private vehicles were still missing after a bridge over the Savitri River collapsed. Mehta confirmed that two buses and at least six private vehicles had fallen into the river, adding the water flow was too strong to undertake a rescue effort. Also Read - Under-Construction Bridge Collapses in Bhutan, Three Indian Workers Killed at Site
The buses were travelling between Jaigad-Mumbai and another Rajapur-Borivali, respectively. The Maharashtra government, National Disaster Response Force, Navy and Coast Guard launched a massive air and sea operation. Meanwhile, heavy rain is causing hurdles in the rescue operation.
The disaster struck after heavy rains flooded the Savitri river, which originates in Mahabaleshwar and flows through Ratnagiri-Raigad districts. The sheer force of the flood waters built up huge pressure on the seven-decade-old bridge near Mahad around midnight and it collapsed, with around a dozen piers totally washed out by the gushing waters.
Incessant rains continued to hamper rescue operations in the region. Rains also continued to lash the entire coastal Konkan region as well as northern and western Maharashtra. The tragedy found its echo in Parliament and the Maharashtra assembly where several opposition leaders attacked the government for not shutting down the old bridge though it had exceeded its lifespan.