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One dead, over 8 missing as Curchorem footbridge collapses

Curchorem: Tragedy struck Curchorem on Thursday evening, when a footbridge on which around 50 persons were standing partially collapsed. One body has been recovered and over eight people are feared missing, after a number of those who fell into the waters either swam ashore or were rescued.Navy divers and Drishthi life guards were helping the Fire and Emergency Services personnel and police till late night in search and rescue operations. The recovered body has been identified as that of truck driver Baswraj Malanbar (30) from Sanguem.According to the sources the tragedy occurred when fire services personnel were searching the waters for the body of a youth who had jumped into the river. Around 50 to 60 people were watching the rescue operation from the footbridge that connects Curchorem to Sanvordem over the River Zuari. Due to the added weight a portion of the bridge collapsed taking people along with it into the river. Some saved themselves by staying on the bridge and holding to its side barriers. A few managed to swim to shore and some were rescued by locals and fire personnel, who were already at the site.The footbridge which was constructed over 30 years ago was not in use and had been closed down by the authorities after a new bridge had been constructed. People were using the new pathway which was constructed both the side for the new bridge.
The exact number of missing persons is not known, but according to a local person who took part in the rescue operation, Suleman Gauri, at least eight people are missing. Gauri rescued three youth who had fallen into the river.As per available information six persons were shifted to Hospicio hospital, while others were discharged after they were given first aid at Curchorem Primary Health Centre.Speaking to media persons PWD Minister Ramkrishna (Sudin) Dhavalikar, who was present at the site till late night, said that authorities had barricaded both sides of the footbridge and put up board warning people not to enter the bridge. “Only one body has been removed and search operation is still going on. The exact number of casualties is not known yet,” Dhavalikar said.South Goa MP Narendra Sawaikar said it was an unfortunate tragedy. “The bridge must be demolished as the government had notified it as a dangerous bridge and notices were placed both the side of the bridge not to use it. In my opinion the administration should consider dismantling the bridge, but right now the priority is to recover the bodies,” Sawaikar said.Opposition leader and Quepem MLA Chandrakant Babu Kavlekar, Sanvordem MLA Deepak Pawaskar, State BJP President Vinay Tendulkar, South Goa Collector Swapnil Dessai, Quepem Mamlatdar Prashant Shirodkar, SP Shekar Prabhu Dessai, Quepem DySP Sammy Tavares, Quepem PI, holding charge of Curchorem Police Station, Pravin Gawas, Curchorem PSI Veronica Coutinho and PSI Prashal Dessai were present at the site. [H]

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