21 passengers killed as bus falls into 400 metre deep gorge in Himachal
SHIMLA: At least 21 passengers were killed and five
others injured when a state roadways bus on Tuesday rolled down into a gorge in
Himachal Pradesh’s Shimla district, police said.
The Himachal Road Transport Corporation bus was on way
from Shimla to Savera Khad in Kumarsain area of the district when the accident
occurred near Kadhar Ghat in Basantpur area, around 60 km from here.
Superintendent of Police DW Negi said that the bus
fell into a 400 m deep gorge. He said the cause of the accident is yet to be
ascertained. The driver of the bus jumped out of the vehicle, Negi added.
Locals said the accident spot has been experiencing
continuous rainfall for the past many days. “The bus was giving way to another
vehicle when the road, where the ill-fated bus was stationed, collapsed,” said
a witness. The injured have been taken to the Indira Gandhi Medical College and
Hospital in Shimla.
Eyewitnesses said the administration had a tough time
extricating the victims from the badly-mangled bus. They said the condition of
the road, alternate to the National Highway 22, where the accident occurred is
good as it is maintained by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), an
organisation under the defence ministry.
People in the area began rescue operations even before
the district authorities reached the spot. It took hours for rescuers and
police to climb down the mountain and bring up the bodies. The rainfall in the
region hampered the rescue operation, police officials said. Most of the
victims were from Shimla district.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh expressed shock and
grief over the accident and directed the district administration to take all
possible measures to rescue the victims and provide them adequate relief.
Earlier in the day, a
major bus accident was averted when another state roadways bus carrying over 60
passengers got trapped in the mud owing to landslide and skidded off the road
in Balsan area on the Theog-Chopal road. Police said 48 passengers got minor