At least 24 people died and five others sustained injuries as a private bus ferrying a wedding party fell into a river on Lalsot-Kota highway in Rajasthan’s Bundi district on Wednesday morning, police said.
Suresh Kumar, Station House Officer at Lakheri police station, said, “The private bus, carrying 28 people, fell into the Mej river in Papri village today morning sometime before 10 am. We were informed by eyewitnesses — who were bathing in the river — and rushed to the spot.”
Kumar said that 11 men, 10 women and three children died in the accident, while five others are undergoing treatment in Kota.
“They were headed for a Bhaat (wedding ritual) ceremony,” Kumar said.
“As per eyewitnesses, the bus gradually submerged in the water, which is about 12 feet deep,” he said. The accident took place on a bridge.
As per police, the accident took place as the driver dozed off while driving.
Bundi District Magistrate Antar Singh Nehra said that Rs 2 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund has been announced as ex-gratia sum to the kin of each of the deceased, and Rs 40,000 for each of the injured. He said that locals have demanded widening of the bridge and installation of barriers on either side.
“We will take it up with the concerned department,” Nehra said. Former minister Babulal Nagar, who reached the spot, had to bear the brunt of angry locals, who allegedly hurled dirt on him.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said, “I am deeply saddened to learn about the tragic accident in Bundi in which 24 people have lost lives after the bus fell into river Mej. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families who have lost their loved ones in this tragedy. I wish a speedy recovery to all injured.”
Deputy Chief Minister and state Congress president Sachin Pilot also condoled the deaths and prayed for the peace of departed souls.
The Prime Minister’s Office too took to Twitter, and said, “I am extremely saddened by the news of a bus falling in a river in Bundi. Many people have lost their lives.”
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, who is also the local MP, said that he was saddened and disturbed by the loss of lives.
“I have spoken to the district administration and given instructions to speed up the relief work,” he said.
Nehra said three of the injured are in a state of trauma and have been sent to a hospital in Kota for treatment.
Two of the injured were discharged after receiving treatment, Nehra further said. After being discharged, the two persons claimed that the bus lost control as one of the wheels came off, the collector quoted them as saying.
The five injured persons were identified as Murli (55), a resident of Basant Vihar, Ganeshpal area of Kota city; Deepak Sindhi (18), son of Narayan; Amit (35); Kannu (13), daughter of Suresh; Manju (35), wife of Mahavir Dhobi, Lakheri SI Kumar said.
According to Murli, his family was headed to Sawai Madhopur city to conduct a wedding ritual to his sister following his niece’s wedding when the bus driver reportedly lost control and plunged the vehicle into the river from a height of 20-25 feet.
DSP Shyamsunder Vishoni said the bus has still not been pulled out of the river and efforts are still on.
The actual cause of the accident would be ascertained only after a thorough investigation into the matter, the DSP said.
The autopsy of all 24 bodies was done at a government hospital in Lakheri. Later, they were sent to Kota to be handed over to the family members, the policeman said.
Meanwhile, Ramdev Dhobi, younger brother of one of the deceased, said, “Besides my elder brother Ramesh Dhobi, I have lost my entire maternal family including four maternal uncles, two maternal aunts, their husbands and children. All of them are gone in the accident.” —With PTI inputs
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