Seventeen people died and 26 others injured, some of them seriously, when a rashly driven private bus skidded off the road and plunged into Beas river near Mandi town on Saturday. There are two couples are among the dead. At least 14 people died on the spot while others later succumbed to their injuries either on way to the regional hospital at Mandi or after reaching the hospital. One person died while on way to Shimla’s Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC) hospital as he was in a critical condition.
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The ill-fated bus, belonging to Mandi-based Kanika Travels, was on its way to Kullu from Mandi with 45 passengers on board, most of them locals from Mandi or Kullu districts.
Some of the victims, who were still in shock, blamed the driver for overspeeding to overtake a truck, around six kms ahead of Mandi town.
To avoid hitting a biker just in front of the bus, he veered the vehicle to the left side and crashed with parapets.
The speeding bus broke through four parapets and fell to into a 200-feet deep gorge and eventually plunged into the Beas river. At the accident site, bodies were scattered all over.
Among the dead, 16 were male passengers and two females.
A Mandi couple who had fixed the wedding of their daughter on November 25 and were on way to distribute wedding cards to relatives also died in the accident.
The casualties could have been higher if the members of local truck union, whose office was just next to the accident site, had not started immediate rescue work.
Inspector General of Police (central) Ajay Yadav, who also visited the spot, said preliminary investigations showed the accident was caused by negligence and rash driving.
The police have registered a case.
State’s Transport Minister G S Bali has ordered a probe into the accident and sought the report in 15 days. He said his department would give Rs 4 lakh each to the next of kin of the dead while the injured will get Rs 1 lakh each.
Governor Acharya Devvrat and Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh mourned the death of 18 passengers.
Former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal also expressed grief over the accident.