New Delhi: The Coast Guard and the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Wednesday kicked into action and deployed choppers for the search operation, following a British-era bridge on river Savitri collapsed about midnight last night in Mahad, Raigad district, in which 22 people are still missing.
The Coast Guard launched a Chetak helicopter at about 8:15 am for carrying out search operations for people who were swept away from the bridge, the Navy PRO said in a statement.
The IAF Mi 17 Helicopter also undertook a search op down the river.
Indian Navy Seaking 42C, an all weather aircraft with diving team was launched by the Navy. The Diving team has been positioned there and awaiting inputs on location of the vehicles. A Seaking 42B helicopter on another mission was diverted to the area for search. No survivors nor vehicles have been traced till now as the search is in progress.
Earlier, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis asserted that desperate attempts were being made to locate the two buses which went missing in the Savitri river. Fadnavis said that there was heavy rains in the catchment areas of Mahabaleshwar, which led to high pressure flooding on the river Savitri and the bride which was made during the British era collapsed.
“In a very unfortunate incident at Mahad in Raigadh district on the Mumbai-Goa National Highway yesterday, a bridge was washed out. In fact, there were two parallel bridges – one new and one old. Single lane traffic was used on the old bridge, which was constructed in the British era, collapsed due to heavy water pressure,” he said.
Confirming that two state transport buses are missing, the Chief Minister said they were carrying 22 passengers in total, adding an assessment is being made on rest of the damages.
“The NDRF teams have reached and they are trying their level best to ensure relief and rehabilitation and a massive search is underway. A desperate attempt has been made to locate the buses that have gone into the river,” Fadnavis said.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Fadnavis and assured him full support and assistance from the Centre.
“Hon PM @narendramodi spoke to Maharashtra CM @Dev_Fadnavis & took all details of the Mahad incident. PM @narendramodi offered all help in rescue and relief operations. NDRF teams are already activated,” CMO Maharashtra said in a series of tweets.
Meanwhile, the NDRF team from Pune is at the site of the tragedy along with the Coast Guard, rowing boats, inflatable rafts, choppers and all equipments. Heavy rains are causing a hurdle in the rescue operation.
Two buses of state transport with 18 passengers, two drivers and two conductors are missing in the tragedy that struck on Tuesday night. The traffic on the Mumbai-Goa highway was stopped after the age-old bridge collapsed over Savitri River. Nearly a dozen vehicles, including two State Transport buses travelling over the bridge, are feared to have flown away with the water current.
The buses include one travelling between Jaigad-Mumbai and another Rajapur-Borivali. District Collector Sheetal Ugale-Teli and Police Superintendent Suvez Haque are present at the venue.