» » 2 dead, 22 missing as bridge collapses in western India

NEW DELHI, Aug. 3 (by Xinhua) Two bodies have been recovered while over 20 others are feared missing after a British-era bridge collapsed on a highway in the western Indian state of Maharashtra in the wee hours of Wednesday, plunging around a dozen vehicles into the water, officials said.

The 50-feet highway bridge over Savitri river in Mahad town near the state's Raigad district, connecting Mumbai with the popular holiday destination of Goa, gave way due to heavy rains.

"So far, two bodies have been fished out of the river that has risen over the danger mark. The National Disaster Response Force, along with Indian Navy divers, are looking for those missing in the incident," a senior official said, on condition of anonymity.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and offered all assistance in the rescue and search operation.

In the Parliament, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that two passenger buses and four private cars are suspected to have been washed away after the bridge collapsed.

The aerial photo shows the damaged bridge on the overflowing Savitri river due to torrential rain in Mahad, Indian state of Maharashtra, Aug. 3, 2016. (Xinhua/Stringer)

The two state transport buses, with 11 passengers each, started from Mumbai but did not arrive at their destination. The vehicles, unable to see the missing section in the dark, fell into the river, officials said.

Earlier, the Maharashtra chief minister said that he spoke to district administration and police officials and instructed them to take immediate rescue and relief measures.

"There were two parallel bridges - one is a new bridge and one constructed during the British era. The old one got collapsed. The primary reason seems to be the high pressure caused due to flooding of the Savitri river due to heavy rain in the catchment of Mahabaleshwar," he tweeted.

Bridge collapses are common in India. In March this year, an under-construction flyover collapsed in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, killing 27 people and injuring more than 80 others.

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