CURCHOREM/MARGAO: Tragedy struck Sanvordem on Thursday when sidewalk of a Portuguese-era bridge collapsed taking down with it at least 50 onlookers who had gathered at the bridge to witness rescuing of a man who had jumped into the Zuari river to commit suicide.
So far, body of a truck driver has been fished out of the river. However, at least ten people are still missing. Some of those who fell into the river swam to safety.
Narrating the whole sequence of the tragedy, reliable sources said that a man identified as Santosh Wadar had jumped into the river from the bridge sidewalk to end his life. When passers-by saw the man jumping into the river, they raised an alarm. Within no time several curious people gathered at the old bridge and crowded the sidewalk to look on at Wadar being rescued from the river by firefighters. Unfortunately, the old sidewalk gave in taking down with it some 50 onlookers at 6.30 pm on Thursday.
The resourceful firefighters of the Curchorem fire brigade, which had been called in to rescue Wadar, began their operation to rescue the onlookers fallen into the river. Some of the people swam to safety. However, nightfall approached, making the rescue operation difficult.
The old footpath could not withstand the weight of the onlookers and consequently collapsed taking down with it some 50 people into the river, the sources said.
So far body of a truck driver Basavraj Malnwar has been fished out of the river with the help of a crane.
The rescue operation has been on, and Navy divers have been roped in for the Herculean task.
The collapsed portion of the sidewalk has been dismantled.
Some of the injured have been admitted to the Goa Medical College and Hospital, Bambolim, the Hospicio Hospital, Margao and the community health centre, Kakoda.
Four of the injured persons have been admitted to the CHC, Kakoda.
There was chaos at the site of the tragedy as several people rushed to the bridge causing traffic snarl.
The tragedy has plunged the town into a pall of gloom and people do not know the identity of the onlookers fallen into the river, said Suhas Sanvordekar who visited the CHC and saw that only one doctor and a nurse are attending to the patients injured in the
incident. Two of the injured have been moved to the GMC late Thursday night while four persons are undergoing treatment at the Hospicio Hospital, Margao.
Doctors at the hospital said that Victor Daniel (35) who suffered injuries on his shoulder and head and Ramesh Shankar (23), a native of UP who suffered fractures on a leg and a hip, have been shifted to the GMC.
The injured – Latif Shaikh, Muturaj Kalgari and Rajaram Gaonkar who sustained fractures and injuries on their ribs – are undergoing treatment at the Hospicio Hospital.
The old bridge made of iron was constructed during the Portuguese regime. In view of the heavy vehicular traffic, including of ore transportation, a parallel bridge was constructed with footpaths on both sides.
But the old bridge and its sidewalks are still used by the people.
Ramkrishna Sanvordekar, a local, said that some five years ago villagers had demanded removal of the said sidewalk, as the corroded structure poses a threat to human life.
During Ganesh Chaturthi the faithful gather on the sidewalk when Ganesh idols are immersed into the river.
South Goa MP Narendra Sawaikar; PWD Minister Ramakrishna ‘Sudin’ Dhavalikar; Opposition leader Chandrakant Kavlekar; Director General of Police Dr Mukesh Chander; SP Shekhar Prabhudessai; DySP, Quepem, Sammy Tavaris; mamlatdar Partaprao Gaonkar; PI Pravin Gavas, and others rushed to the tragedy site.
Dhavalikar, Chander and others were present at the site till midnight overseeing the rescue operation.