In a tragic incident, two people died while several others went missing after a bridge collapsed in Goa on Thursday afternoon.
The incident took place when a large number of people were standing on the dilapidated bridge connecting Sanvordem and Curchorem villages in South Goa district.
They were watching an operation to rescue a youth who had allegedly jumped into the river to commit suicide.
Around 35 people were rescued, according to Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
"Around 30-35 were rescued according to Fire department officials. How many are submerged we do not know. Some say it is 40-50 (persons) who were on the bridge, some say it around 30... But these are unconfirmed sources. Roughly it could be 40 odd," Parrikar told media persons late on Thursday.
The Portuguese-era bridge across the river Sanvordem, a tributary of river Zuari, was closed for traffic for the last four years.
While fire and emergency services personnel were busy rescuing the youth, some 50 people were watching their efforts from the bridge when it gave way and they fell into the water.
“More people are feared to have been trapped under the collapsed portion of the bridge,” a police officer said.
Divers from the Indian Navy and the Drishti Lifeguard Services, a private agency which provides lifeguards for the state’s beaches, were called in for the rescue operation.
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar told reporters that all concerned agencies have been pressed into action.
“A massive search and rescue operation is being carried out. We still don’t have exact number of people who could be in the water,” he said.
A Navy spokesperson said nine Navy divers with Geminis boats have been rushed to Curchorem.
The rescue operation is expected to continue through the night. PWD minister Sudin Dhavalikar who rushed to the site said the bridge was closed for use for the last four years.
“People who were keen on witnessing the rescue operation for a youth who had jumped into the river to commit suicide removed the barricades on the bridge,” he said.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he spoke to Parrikar following the bridge collapse reports. “Spoke to Goa CM ... regarding the bridge collapse on Sanvordem river. Search and rescue operations have been intensified,” Singh tweeted.
(With agency inputs)