Thirty-three people died and seven were injured after a bus fell into the Banas river, in Rajasthan’s Sawai Madhopur district Saturday. Police said the accident took place between 6.30 am and 7 am, when the bus was overtaking another vehicle on a bridge on the Sawai Madhopur-Lalsot road.
“The dead include 22 men, eight women and three children. The bodies were being recovered till late in the afternoon,” said Subhash Chandra Mishra, circle officer of Sawai Madhopur City and the investigating officer in the case. Police said most of the passengers were pilgrims from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, and were heading to a temple in Malarna Chour near Lalsot.
Refuting reports that the bus was being driven by a minor, Sawai Madhopur superintendent of police Maman Singh said the driver, Mohammed Zakir, was an adult and had a driving licence.
“Preliminary investigation suggests that a person named Mohammed Zakir was driving the bus. The owner of the bus has corroborated our findings,” Singh said.
Both Zakir, who police said was in his 30s, and the bus conductor Shahrukh died in the accident.
“We are trying to find out whether Shahrukh, who was 18 years old, had a licence to drive the bus. But preliminary investigation suggests that Zakir was driving,” said Mishra.
“It appears that the driver was trying to overtake another vehicle, which led him to veer towards the wrong side of the road,” said Mishra.
An FIR has been registered by police under IPC section 304A (causing death by negligence) and sections of the Motor Vehicles Act, he said.
“The bus was heading towards Lalsot from Sawai Madhopur… it fell at least 60 feet. We needed a crane to pull the bus out of the river,” said Anoop Singh, station house officer at Soorwal police station in Sawai Madhopur.