Eight more bodies were recovered on Friday during search operation in the Savitri river, where two state-run buses and some private vehicles were swept away after a British-era bridge collapsed in Mahad, taking the toll in the tragedy to 22 as hopes for survivors faded.
"Eight more bodies from different locations in the river were recovered and the toll has now gone up to 22. Of these, 17 are males and five females," said Satish Bagal, Resident Deputy Collector of Raigad district.
A fresh search operation, involving multiple agencies and local divers, will be launched on Saturday morning, he said.
The tragedy occurred on Tuesday night at Mahad, about 170km from Mumbai, when two state-run buses and some private vehicles fell into the swollen river following collapse of a British-era bridge on Mumbai-Goa Highway.
Of the 22 victims, 10 were in Rajapur-Borivili bus while seven travelling in Jaigad-Mumbai bus, both belonging to State Transport Corporation.
Six of the deceased belonged to Mumbai and its neighbouring suburbs of Virar and Nalasopara, while five hailed from Chiplun town in Ratnagiri district, he told the media.
The bodies of Shrikant Kamble, the driver of Jaigad-Mumbai bus, and Prabhakar Shirke, the conductor of Rajapur-Borivili bus, have also been recovered, the official said.
Two of the deceased -- Shewanti Mirgal and Sampada Vaze -- were travelling in a private Tavera vehicle.
Divisional Commissioner Tanaji Satre and Guardian Minister of Raigad district Prakash Mehta supervised the search operation, said Bagal.
Twenty boats and nearly 160 personnel from Coast Guard, NDRF and Navy were deployed in the search operation, Raigad Additional Superintendent of Police Sanjay Patil said, adding the district administration was also taking help of local fishermen.
The local police were providing all logistical and technical support to the jawans, he said.
Another senior police official said some of the bodies were recovered as far as about 120 km from the mishap site. He said the search operation will continue till the remains of the buses and other vehicles are found.
"We have extended the area of search operation and alerted local residents and appealed them to inform us if they spot anything floating in the water," he said, adding heavy rains were hampering the exercise.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has said the government will give Rs 5 lakh to the kin of the deceased. The government has already announced the kin of the deceased staff members of the two state-run buses would either be given job or compensation of Rs 10 lakh each.
Images: Rescue operations continue at the periphery of the site of bridge collapse. Photographs: Sahil Salvi/Rediff.com