Mahad tragedy: Missing SUV found, 2 bodies feared stuck inside

Mumbai: On the 11th day of search operations, Navy divers today found the wreckage of an SUV, with two bodies feared to be trapped inside, in Savitri river near Mahad in Raigad district where a British-era bridge had collapsed on August 2.

Efforts are on to retrieve the vehicle and the bodies, state disaster management cell director Suhas Diwase said, adding the total number of missing persons now stands at 12.

A Defence PRO said the extrication of the wreckage will be done jointly by Navy divers and the National Disaster Response Force.

“Continuing the day 11 of the search in Savitri river, the Indian Navy divers located one more wreckage, assessed to be a Tavera SUV vehicle number is MH04 GD7837. There is a likelihood of two bodies inside the vehicle. The wreckage was found 300 metres from the damaged bridge, in 4 to 5 meters of water. NDRF and district administration have been informed,” a statement issued here by the Defence authorities said.

Naval divers had yesterday located the wreckage of the second MSRTC bus, which was washed away in the turbulent Savitri river near Mahad after the British-era bridge collapsed on August 2. No bodies were found in the bus.

The bridge was to be dismantled in December this year as part of the Mumbai-Goa Highway expansion project.

On Thursday, the wreckage of a Rajapur-Borivali MSRTC bus was retrieved about 170-200 meters from the collapsed bridge site.

The Indian Navy team, comprising personnel specialising in diving, is searching for survivors since the morning of August 4, braving high water current and crocodiles in the river.

So far, 26 bodies have been recovered after two state transport buses and some other vehicles fell in the swollen river following the bridge collapse on Mumbai-Goa Highway near Mahad, about 170 kms from here.

The state Cabinet, in this particular case, has already reduced the waiting period for granting compensation to the kin of those missing to two months (from seven years as per existing rules).

If the missing people are not traced within two months, the state will declare them dead and award solatium, PWD Minister Chandrakant Patil had earlier said.

The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation has announced a compensation of Rs 14 lakh each to the kin of deceased travelling in the ST buses and Rs 10 lakh each to the family of the deceased in other vehicles involved in the tragedy.

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