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Naval divers locate wreckage of second bus in Mahad tragedy

Remaining portion of Mahad-Poladpur bridge

Mahad (Maha) : Naval divers today located wreckage of the second MSRTC bus which was washed away in the turbulent Savitri river near Mahad in Raigad district after a British-era bridge collapsed on August 2.

“Continuing search operations on Day 10 at Savitri River, the naval divers located one more wreckage assessed to be part of the second bus (Jaigad-Mumbai).

Post recovery of first bus on August 11, search was continued downstream. The wreckage is 400 meters from the bridge in an area where strong currents are observed. The wreckage is completely submerged in around 5 meters depth,” a Defence spokesperson said.

“It is assessed that the wreckage is recoverable. NDRF teams are being informed and a crane for recovery of the wreckage is being requested,” spokesperson Commander Rahul Sinha said in a statement here.

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

After the Navy divers located the bus, braving strong currents and crocodiles in the river, NDRF teams were summoned to retrieve it.

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

So far, 26 bodies have been recovered and nearly 14 are still missing and feared dead after two State Transport buses and some other vehicles fell in the swollen river following the bridge collapse on Mumbai-Goa Highway near Mahad in Raigad district, about 170 kms from here.

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

Meanwhile, anxious kin of the deceased who were camping at the rescue site have left the place.

Sanjay Patil, Additional SP of Raigad police said, “The local MIDC Mahad police has registered a case of accidental deaths of 26 people whose bodies have been recovered while a missing case has been registered for those whose bodies have not been found so far.”

“Our investigation into the missing cases registered with us will go on up to two months and if their bodies are not found or recovered, then on the basis of accidental death reports, we will come to a conclusion that they too were part of the tragic incident and would be considered dead.

“Thus they will be issued the necessary documents paving their way to claim the financial compensation announced by the state government,” Patil told PTI.

NDRF’s 5th battalion commandant Anupam Srivastava also said that his four teams were at work and doing their job to trace remains of the swept away vehicles and passengers.

“Till we don’t get orders from the higher authorities, we are not going to call off the (search) operations,” he said.

The State Cabinet, in this particular case, has already reduced the waiting period for granting compensation to next to the kin 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 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 deceased in other vehicles involved in the tragedy.

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