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One dead over 10 feared missing after Sanvordem bridge collapses

Sanvordem: Over 10 people are feared drowned in the Zuari river at Sanvordem, 60km from Panaji, after a 30m span of the mild steel footbridge adjacent to the old bridge, which has now been closed for traffic, collapsed Thursday evening.

While one body was fished out from the waters late night by the fire brigade personnel, six persons who were rescued were rushed to the nearest primary health centre at Cacora from where they were shifted to Hospicio hospital at Margao. Two of them were later shifted to Goa Medical College Hospital at Bambolim.

Police identified the only body that was recovered on Thursday as that of Basavraj Malnavar, 30, a truck driver from Sanguem.

Rescue operations by the Navy, the Coast Guard and Dristi Lifesavings were under way until last reports came in. The Navy has pressed three teams of divers to help in the rescue operations, while a team of nine Navy divers with Gemini boats and associated equipment has been rushed to the accident site.

A team of 35 lifeguards, including divers of Drishti, along with rescue and search equipment also joined the operation, which was being supervised by collector (South) Swapnil Naik.

Two other teams of divers are on standby. They will help in rescue and location of those trapped under the collapsed bridge.

The work of dismantling the collapsed portion of the footbridge was completed at 1.15am on Friday and rescuers hope to find to bodies, if any, below the collapsed span of the bridge.

Police said the incident occurred at around 6.30pm on Thursday when the fire bridge personnel were engaged in recovering the body of a person, Santosh Vandar, that was found floating in the river. Vandar had allegedly committed suicide earlier in the day. Onlookers had crowded on the footbridge to watch the body being recovered, when the bridge went crashing into the river.

SP (South) Shekhar Prabhudesai said, "Around 40 persons were on the bridge when it collapsed."

While several persons swam ashore to safety, eyewitnesses said those who tried to save the drowning people, were also carried away by the strong current due to high tide.

Chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the tragedy, said there would be very few casualties. Parrikar, who was monitoring the situation, said he had spoken to the Navy. "I've briefed both the PM and the home minister," he told REPORTERS.

Parrikar said Union home minister Rajnath Singh asked him whether the national disaster management authority team needed to be deputed to Goa. "I informed him that it was an accidental tragedy and doesn't require the team to be deputed here," he said.

"Of the 35 persons who were rescued, at least 12 persons swam ashore. We cannot predict the number of persons missing," he said.

The chief minister said from the inquiries made in the area, no local person was missing, adding that those missing could be migrants. "Even if there are missing persons, the number will be small," he said.

South Goa MP Narendra Sawaikar said the incident was unfortunate, but served as an eye-opener for the people and the government. He also said that bridges which weren't being used should be dismantled.

A fire brigade official said it was his worst experience. "We were engaged in recovering a body when we had to abandon the operation and launch a fresh rescue and recovery operation at the same spot. Many who fell into the water suffered injuries after being hit by the metal truss of the collapsed bridge," he told REPORTERS.

A shimmer of hope descended on the site when a hand was sighted in the waters after a crane began to lift the collapsed span of the footbridge. Hope soon gave way to despair when the rescue operators recovered the lifeless body of Malnavar. Police identified the body on the basis of an identity card found at the site.

Camilo, a truck driver, who swam to safety, was still in shock. "I was walking along the footbridge when it suddenly gave way. More than 50 people must have been on the bridge when it collapsed. I somehow swam to the shore. Some others also swam to safety," he told REPORTERS.

It was a heart wrenching sight at the site, as family members of those who have gone missing, gathered at the site, sobbing and praying.


Source: One dead over 10 feared missing after Sanvordem bridge collapses

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