PANAJI: As rescue efforts were on for two people feared drowned due to the collapse of an ageing bridge on a river in Goa, the state government today said all the "dilapidated and unsafe" bridges would be dismantled soon.
The bridge across Sanvordem river, a tributary of the Zuari in South Goa, collapsed last evening under the weight of scores of onlookers watching a man trying to commit suicide.
The search resumed this morning as several persons are feared missing, which was taken over by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) this afternoon from the Navy and local agency.
"The work of preparing a list of dilapidated bridges across the state and then dismantling them will be taken up seriously," State Town and Country Planning Minister Vijai Sardesai told reporters after visiting the site.
"The government will also carry out a safety audit of bridges and those which are found unsafe and not used by commuters, would be dismantled," Sardesai said.
The minister met the people who were rescued yesterday and are being treated at the district hospital in Margao.
Two persons had drowned while around 20 swam to safety after the bridge, connecting Sanvordem and Curchorem villages in South Goa district, collapsed. Fourteen people were rescued and taken to nearby hospitals.
The rescue operations resumed at 7.30 am today to trace if more lives had been lost. However, the divers of the Indian Navy and a private agency engaged in search stopped the operation in the afternoon as they did not find any more bodies, Superintendent of Police (South) Shekhar Prabhudesai said.
"Since morning not a single body was found even though the divers of Indian Navy and Drishti Lifesaving Services, the private agency, have been conducting searches," Prabhudesai said.
Meanwhile, an NDRF team from Pune took charge of the search operations.
"A NDRF team from Pune has arrived at the site and it is now assessing the situation. We have not yet called off the search and rescue operations," South Goa district collector Swapnil Naik said.
"The NDRF team will assess the situation and advise us about whether we should stop the operation or not. Divers from Indian Navy have already stopped the search operation as they could not find any body in the water," Naik said.
A spokesman of the Indian Navy said the collapsed part of the bridge had been removed last night.
He said since crocodiles are present in the river, precautions are being taken for the safety of the divers.
The Portuguese-era bridge collapsed when the fire and emergency services personnel were busy rescuing a man, who tried to commit suicide. Around 50 people had gathered on the bridge to watch the rescue efforts when it gave way and they plunged into the water.
The bridge has been closed for traffic for the last four years.