Mahad tragedy: Over 50 crocodiles infest Savitri

Over 50 crocodiles are hampering the search for victims who were washed away in the Savitri river after a British-era bridge on the Goa-Mumbai highway collapsed on August 2

Over 50 crocodiles are hampering the search for victims who were washed away in the Savitri river after a British-era bridge on the Goa-Mumbai highway collapsed on August 2. mid-day tagged along with rescue personnel in a boat yesterday and found the reptiles, even at a distance of 20 km from the bridge, wading into the river and sunning on the banks. The team had to use a ‘thunder splash’ — a device that makes a booming noise underwater and creates strong ripples to scare them away.

There are some 50 crocodiles within 20 km of the collapse site. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
There are some 50 crocodiles within 20 km of the collapse site. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar

Villagers claimed that it is not uncommon to sight crocodiles during the monsoon — the mating season. Faisal Chandale, a Mahad businessman, said the crocodiles are shy by nature and swim away on sighting ‘intruders’. “No crocodile attack has been reported here,” he said.

Also Read: Mahad tragedy: Mumbai man's body found five days after mishap

Rescue personnel gear up for search operationsRescue personnel gear up for search operations

15 still missing
Meanwhile, two more bodies were recovered from the river yesterday, taking the total to 26, after the water level dropped by some five feet. Search for 15 others is still on.

A part of the ST buses recovered by rescue personnel
A part of the ST buses recovered by rescue personnel

Rescue personnel suspect that the rest of the victims must be stuck inside the ST buses and the Tavera that were swallowed by the river.

Read Story: Mahad bridge collapse: Truck that fell into Savitri, missing since 2005

The bodies found over the last two days were highly decomposed. Doctors suspect that fish had nibbled at the body parts. Some of the bodies could not be identified by the relatives, said BV Jagtap, medical superintendent, Mahad Civil Hospital. “Our main aim is to find the missing people and the vehicles that drowned. One more day of low rainfall will help us immensely,” said NDRF Commandant Anupam Srivastav.

3 parts of buses found
The NDRF rescue team, which has been scouring the river with sonar cameras, spotted a car-shaped object yesterday. But when they plunged into the waters, they didn’t find anything. The team has been able to recover three parts of the ST buses within 4 km from the collapse site. “The first part was found on Friday, the second on Saturday and the third on Sunday,” said a naval officer.

Helpless villagers
Villagers helping the rescue team claim that they had helplessly watched some five bodies being carried by strong currents on the first three days of the operation. Only after the river’s water level dropped were the rescue personnel able to mount a through search. Jaiwant Dagdu Padya (32) of Dasgaon village said, “We are good swimmers, but we couldn’t do a thing as the currents were strong.”

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