Goa bridge collapse toll rises to three (Second Lead)

Panaji, May 19 (IANS) The body of one more person was fished out of the Sanvordem river in South Goa on Friday, following the collapse of a dilapidated foot-bridge late on Thursday, taking the death toll to three.

District administration officials told IANS that a third body was fished out on Friday afternoon. "The deceased has been identified as Santosh Wandal, 26," an official supervising the relief operation said.

Wandal, incidentally, had jumped off the Sanvordem bridge in a bid to commit suicide late on Thursday. Soon, nearly 40 persons gathered on the dilapidated bridge to witness efforts being made to rescue a struggling Wandal from the river, which led to a part of the bridge to collapse under the crfowd's weight, triggering a melee.

According to Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, most of those who fell into the river swam to the bank.

The recovery of Wandal's body could soon lead to the search operation being called off by multiple government agencies, including district administration, state police and fire services, the Indian Navy and National Disaster Relief Force teams, sources in the South Goa district administration said.

"Two bodies were recovered till 1 p.m. on Friday. Only one person is missing," South Goa District Collector Swapnil Naik told IANS shortly before Wandal's body was fished out of the river by divers.

Earlier on Friday, a National Disaster Relief Force team from Pune visited the spot to help in the search efforts.

The Indian Navy, whose divers are engaged in search-and-rescue operations, said the operation was resumed on Friday even as crocodiles in the Sanvordem river were creating a hindrance in the efforts.

"Crocodiles seen by locals. Separate patrolling and lookout for crocodiles instituted. Chetak helicopters in search and rescue role... to search downstream. Terrain hilly and clouded," the Navy said.

--IANS
maya/vgu/vt

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