A crane lowered a magnet, weighing 300 kg, into the 40-foot-deep Savitri River on Thursday to trace the two buses that were swept away by the swollen river after a bridge collapsed near Mahad in Raigad district. The body of SS Kamle, the driver of one of the state buses, was found 100 km downstream from the bridge, reported NDTV.
Local officials told PTI that the magnet was able to attract something and efforts were on to pull it out of the river. Navy divers also resumed rescue operations, while a Chetak helicopter, belonging to the Coast Guard, also began to scan the area. Scuba divers and electronic sensors were pressed into service to locate bodies under the water, reported the Hindustan Times. On Wednesday, 28 Marine Commandos, more than 100 personnel from the National Disaster Response Force and 25 volunteers from the Coast Guard began the search and rescue operation.
However, strong currents in the river are hampering the search and rescue operations. A boat with NDRF personnel capsized on Thursday morning, according to NDTV. The divers were rescued by a chopper.
The Maharashtra government has ordered a judicial probe into the incident.
Two state-run buses with 22 people on board and several other vehicles went missing when the colonial bridge, which was built during the 1940s, collapsed on Wednesday. The issue was raised in Parliament when a lawmaker pointed out that British officials had warned Maharashtra that the bridge is too old and should be closed to public. The state government, however, declared the bridge safe and gave an all-clear certificate in May. The Shiv Sena, too, questioned the reasoning behind such a certificate.