Mumbai: The death rose to 22 on Friday even as incessant rains hampered the search operations launched after two buses and some private vehicles were swept away following collapse of a British-era bridge near Mahad in Raigad district on Thursday.
"Till last night we had fished out 14 bodies. The search teams this morning have spotted three more bodies," Raigad Additional Superintendent of Police Sanjay Patil said.
Efforts are on to fish out the three bodies, he said.
"Whenever our team gets the bodies out from the river, they are sent to local hospital for postmortem and then we hand over them to the kin after following the laid down procedures," Patil said.
He said apart from 20 boats and nearly 160 personnel from Coast Guard, NDRF, Navy roped-in the search operation, the district administration was also taking help of local fishermen who have knowledge about the river's topography.
The local police were providing all logistical and technical support to the jawans in the search, he said.
Another senior police official, who was present at the spot, said some of the bodies traced so far were recovered as far as about 120 km from the mishap site.
He said the search operation will continue till the remains of buses and other four-wheelers are found.
"That is why we have extended the area of search operation and alerted local residents who live alongside the Savitri River and appealed them to inform us, if they spot anything afloat in the water," he said.
He, however, said the incessant rains were hampering the pace of search operation.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had said in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday that eight bodies have been recovered so far and 42 people are missing.
He said the government has decided to give Rs 5 lakh to kin of the deceased in the tragedy.
The government has already announced that the kin of the deceased staff members of two state-run buses would either be given job or compensation of Rs 10 lakh each.
Fadnavis said that apart from two state-run buses, a Tavera and a Honda City car had also fallen into river after the bridge crumbled on Tuesday night.
The British-era bridge is located on Mumbai-Goa Highway near Mahad, about 170 kms from Mumbai.
The river, which turned torrent due to heavy downpour in its catchment area in Mahabaleshwar, weakened the foundations of the nearly-century-old bridge, which ultimately gave way on Tuesday night.