Over 22 people are missing as a bridge linking Mahad and Poladpur on the Mumbai-Goa highway in Raigad district in Konkan was washed away due to heavy rains in the early hours of Wednesday. Two State transport buses with 22 people on board — 18 passengers, 2 drivers and 2 conductors, are missing after the bridge collapse. The State transport department has appealed to the relatives of missing passengers to contact on helpline number (02141) 222118 and toll free number 1077.
The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has deployed a Chetak helicopter and a Sea King 42C all-weather aircraft with diving team to carry out search operation to trace the missing vehicles. The ICG is also diverting another Sea King 42B aircraft to help with the mission, a Defence spokesperson said.
The National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) personnel have also been pressed in to the search operation. Two 40-member NDRF contingents have been rushed to Mahad. Traffic on the Mumbai-Goa highway was disrupted and smaller vehicles were diverted via Mangaon and two other routes. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and offered all assistance in the rescue and search operations.
Earlier, Mr. Fadnavis, who was informed of the tragedy at 2 a.m., spoke to Raigad District Collector Sheetal Ugale and Superintendent of Police Suvez Haque and instructed the administration to take immediate rescue and relief measures. "There were 2 parallel bridges — one is a new bridge and one constructed during the British era. The old one got collapsed," he tweeted at 2.30 a.m. "The primary reason seems to be the high pressure caused due to flooding of river Savitri due to heavy rains in catchment of Mahabaleshwar," he said.
"Traffic on highway is stopped. Administration is ascertaining strength & stability of new bridge. Once confirmed, traffic will be resumed," he wrote adding "There is no confirmed assessment about casualties since the area is very dark. Administration will ensure speedy rescue & relief operations."
The Meteorological Department had warned of heavy to very rainfall in Nashik in north Maharashtra and coastal areas from Raigad to Sindhudurg in Konkan over the next 24 hours. A 40-member team of the National Disaster Relief Force with five boats were rushed to Nashik on Tuesday evening after Godavari water levels rose dramatically due to heavy rainfall and release of water from overflowing dams.