Twenty-three persons were killed and 20 others injured when an overloaded private bus skidded off the road and fell 200 kms away from the Jaypee dam at Rohtrung (Kupa) near popular tourist destination of Sangla in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh on Thursday, 250 kms from Shimla.
Seventeen injured persons, including some women and a child, were airlifted to the Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC) in Shimla .Their condition was said to be critical .
Those who died in the accident included the driver and the conductor, – both brothers and happened to be the owner of the vehicle. Most of deceased belonged to local villages, beside few labourers from Bihar.
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The ill-fated bus was on its way from Sangla to Reckong Peo, district headquarter of Kinnaur this morning. The accident took place around 10.30 am and it took sometime for the rescue teams led by Deputy Commissioner D.D. Sharma to reach at the spot. Local villagers were first to begin the rescue operation while relatives of those involved in the accident also reached the spot.
Incidentally, Sharma and Kinnaur SP Rahul Nath were camping near Urni who rushed to the spot and engaged in the rescue operation.
“It’s a fact that bus was overloaded. Against a capacity of 32 passengers there were 43 persons traveling in the bus. The cause could not be known immediately as both driver and conductor have lost their lives and most passengers were in shock, unable to recollect as what really went wrong,” Sharma said.
He said all the bodies of the deceased have been retrieved from the wreckage of the bus. Such was the impact of accident that it’s roof was completely blown off and there were blood and body parts all over the place.
Tejwant Negi, a former BJP MLA accused the state government of delaying helicopter sorties while everyone knew that the National Highway linking Shimla with Kinnaur had remained blocked due to massive landslide at Urni.
“Had helicopter reached immediately some people who succumbed to their injuries at the local hospital could have been saved. The helicopter landed up around 3.30 pm while the accident took place at 10.30 am,” he alleged.
The Deputy Commissioner however said, “There was complete coordination between the district administration and state authorities.”
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and Vidhan Sabha Speaker B.B.L Butail have expressed grief over the accident. Virbhadra Singh directed the district administration to provide immediate relief and adequate medical help to the injured persons.
He appreciated the effort of the district administration to get the injured airlifted to Shimla’s IGMC.
Sharma said a magisterial inquiry has been ordered to know the cause of the accident. Sub-Divisional Magistrate Dr Vishal Sharma will head the probe.
Read the earlier report.