Judicial probe ordered as 42 still missing after Maha bridge tragedy

The Maharashtra government has issued orders for a structural safety audit of all old bridges on the Mumbai-Goa Highway

The Maharashtra government has ordered a judicial probe into the collapse of a bridge in Mahad on Wednesday and issued orders for a structural safety audit of all old bridges on the Mumbai-Goa Highway.

Bodies of 13 passengers were recovered in the search operation conducted after  many vehicles plunged into Savitri river following the bridge collapse in Mahad.

At least 42 people are missing in the tragedy, in which two state transport buses and four-five private vehicles were washed away, an official said.

Bowing to the opposition’s escalating demands, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday announced a judicial probe into the mishap.

Raigad Deputy Collector Satish Vagal told mediapersons on Thursday evening that according to details compiled from various quarters, the two Maharashtra State Transport Corporation buses had more passengers than earlier estimates, besides reports of other people missing in various private vehicles.

While the Rajapur-Borivali service had 14 passengers, including some staffers, the Jaigad-Mumbai service had 12 persons, totalling 26.

Besides, a private Tavera vehicle with eight persons has also been reported missing, from which the bodies of two female victims were recovered on Friday morning.

They have been identified as Sevanti Mirgal, whose body was found near Harihareshwar Beach and Ranjana Vaze’s body was recovered from Kemburli coastal village, nearly 80 km downstream in the sea, besides driver S.S. Kamble’s body which was recovered from Anjarle beach.

Additionally, Vagal said the district authorities have received anxious calls about a Honda City with four persons missing, and another four persons travelling in a three-wheeler still untraceable, totalling to 42.

Transport Minister Diwakar Raote announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to next of kin of each victim, and a compensation of like amount or employment for the families of the staffers who have lost their lives in the tragedy.

Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and other leader demanded a judicial probe into the tragedy and also said the scope of the search operations should be widened since the bodies have been scattered over a large geographical area comprising Savitri River, the Ambet Creek, Arabian Sea and tiny villages dotting the Konkan coast in the district.

“A judicial inquiry will be held into the tragedy,” Fadnavis said after a discussion on the issue in the Assembly.

He said a team of experts from the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay has already been sent to the site and the government has ordered a structural safety audit of all old bridges on the Mumbai-Goa Highway.