Posted On Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 09:07:15 AM
|Rescuers look for survivors amid the wreckage of the bus that fell into a gorge near Chamba district on Saturday
At least 52 people were killed and 45 injured when a heavily overloaded bus plunged into a gorge on Saturday in Himachal Pradesh's Chamba district, in one of the worst road accidents in the country in recent years.
The bus veered off the road in a sparsely populated and hilly area of Rajera, 8 km from the district headquarters of Chamba, after a tyre burst and it fell into the 250-feet-deep gorge, police said. The 42-seater bus was carrying over 100 passengers -- many of them on the roof, and was on its way to Chamba from Dulera when it flew off the road.
As many as 39 people, including the driver, died on the spot, while 13 succumbed to their injuries in the hospital. “All the bodies have been recovered,” Chamba Deputy Commissioner Sunil Chowdhary said. The injured were rushed to a hospital in Chamba where the condition of 12 is stated to be critical.
Of the total relief of Rs 1 lakh each announced for the family of the deceased, the district administration distributed immediate relief of Rs 10,000 each to the next of the kin of the victims, while the seriously injured were provided medical aid and relief of Rs 5,000 each. A magisterial enquiry has been instituted to ascertain the cause of the accident, officials said.
Chief Minister P K Dhumal has expressed grief over the tragedy and directed the local administration to provide relief to the victims. Villagers were the first to reach the accident site and frantically struggled to pull the dead and injured from the twisted wreckage.
Later, emergency crews arrived, covering the dead in white sheets. There were anguished scenes as families came to claim the bodies of the victims.
Many of the dead had boarded the 42-seater bus when their own bus broke down, locals told AFP. It was the second major bus tragedy in a week, in a country where road accidents with dozens dead at a time are common.
Tragic road story
India has the highest annual road death toll in the world, according to a 2009 World Health Organization report, with accidents caused by speeding, careless driving and treacherous roads.
On Wednesday, 31 people were killed when their bus tumbled into a gorge in Meghalaya.
In 2008, some 63 bus passengers returning from a religious celebration were killed when a burst tyre ignited the vehicle's fuel tank east of Agra.