MUMBAI: Two more bodies were today found in the search and rescue operations which continued for fourth day following the collapse of a bridge on Mumbai-Goa highway near Mahad in Raigad district, taking the death toll to 26.
"During the course of rescue operations, officials have managed to recover two more bodies taking the death toll to 26. All the deceased have been identified," state disaster management cell director Suhas Diwase told PTI.
While initially 42 people were feared missing, the authorities have no information and clarity yet on a Honda City car reportedly carrying four persons which is suspected to have also fallen in the river.
"Only once we know for sure that a Honda City car with four people went missing, we will be able to say 42 people are missing. For now, the number of missing people stands at 38," he said.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Coast Guard officials have so far been able to locate only a signboard of one of the missing state transport buses bearing the word 'reserved' on it.
Various techniques, including electronic sensors, fish finders (sonar devices), and massive magnets are being used to trace the metal bodies in the water.
The swollen Savitri river washed away a 100-year-old bridge at Mahad, about 170 km south of Mumbai, on Tuesday night, taking with it two buses and at least one SUV.
The river, which turned into a torrent due to heavy downpour in its catchment area in Mahabaleshwar, weakened the foundations of the bridge, which ultimately gave way on Tuesday night.
Stepping up rescue efforts, divers have been deployed in areas where currents are not strong.
An NDRF commandant said his team has extended the area of search operations up to 40 km from the accident spot, with fishing nets installed across the bridges over the river.
The Raigad, Ratnagiri and state highway police too have joined the operation to find the missing people belonging to various parts of Maharashtra.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had earlier said the government will give Rs five lakh to the kin of the deceased.
The government has already announced that the kin of the deceased staff members of the two state-run buses would either be given job or compensation of Rs 10 lakh each.