At least 10 people are feared to have drowned in the Zuari river at Sanvordem, 60km from Panaji, after a 30-metre span of a steel footbridge adjacent to an old bridge collapsed on Thursday evening.
One body was fished out of the waters late night by fire brigade personnel and six people were rescued. Police said the footbridge collapsed around 6.30pm as fire personnel were recovering the body of a person, Santosh Vandar, found floating in the river. He had allegedly committed suicide.
Onlookers crowded on the footbridge to watch the operation when the structure gave way, sending a large number of people crashing into the river. While several swam ashore to safety, eye witnesses said those who tried to save the drowning people, were also carried away by the strong current. Police identified the only body that was recovered on Thursday as that of Basavraj Malnavar, 30, a truck driver from Sanguem. The rescued were rushed to hospitals and are learnt to be out of danger.
Rescue operations by the Navy and the Coast Guard were under way until last reports came in. Guard were under way until last reports came in.CM 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 TOI. 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. "We cannot predict the number of persons missing," he said. PWD minister Ramkrishna `Sudin' Dhavalikar said people ignored the warnings put up at the footbridge, leading to the tragedy. "People were warned not to use the bridge.
But on Thursday, almost 100 jumped over from the old bridge to this footbridge They invited the calamity," he said.