A British era bridge on the Mumbai-Goa National Highway collapsed in the wee hours of Wednesday due to excessive rains in the Konkan region in Maharashtra.
At least two buses and several other vehicles went missing near Mahad city after the bridge, more than seven decades old and a critical link to the Mumbai-Goa National Highway, crashed around 1 am due to the flood waters rushing into the river.
Two state transport buses with 11 passengers each are also missing and there was no contact with either their drivers or the passengers, Raigad Collector Sheetal Ugale said.
Since the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation buses, which started from Mumbai, did not arrive at their scheduled Mahad depot, Ugale appealed people to get in touch with the concerned authorities about their missing relatives.
Locals said that around five to six private vehicles were also missing and they were feared to be washed away in the floods. The ICG has meanwhile pressed Chetak Helicopters into search operations for tracing missing vehicles.
A massive search operation have been initiated, Ugale confirmed
“The bridge was built during the British era. After discussion with the National Highways Authority, we have shifted traffic to the new parallel bridge nearby. We are trying to confirm reports of other missing vehicles,” Ugale said.
Rehabilitation Minister Chandrakant Patil had earlier said helicopters would be deployed and the help of defence forces was taken to search the missing vehicles.
Meanwhile, a 45-member National Disaster Response Force team has reached Raigad from Pune to assist in the rescue operations.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that primary reason seems to be high pressure caused due to flooding of river Savitri as heavy rains continue to lash the catchment of Mahabaleshwar.
Raigad Collector has also confirmed that one way traffic has now resumed on the new bridge, he added.
Incessant rains continue to lash the coastal Konkan, northern and western Maharashtra since past five days.