Bhopal/Mumbai: At least 13 passengers were killed after their bus heading towards Maharashtra fell into the Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh’s Dhar district on Monday, officials said.
The deceased included four women and a child, they said.
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said 15 people were rescued.
The bus, belonging to the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), was believed to be carrying 30 to 32 people, another official said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde expressed grief over the loss of lives in the accident and directed the MSRTC to take immediate action to pay Rs 10 lakh to the relatives of each of the deceased passengers.
The MSRTC later announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the relatives of each of the deceased and to bear the entire cost of treatment cost of the injured persons.
According to MSRTC officials, the bus left from MP’s Indore city around 7.30 am and was heading to Amalner in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district, located about 260 km from Dhar.
“It crashed into the railing of a bridge between Khalghat and Thigari around 10 am to 10.15 am and then plunged into the river, the MSRTC said.
Thirteen bodies have been retrieved,” Indore Zone Inspector General of Police Rakesh Gupta told PTI, adding the rescue operation was on.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) also rushed to the spot, another official said.
The MSRTC in a release said so far 13 bodies, including of the bus driver and conductor, have been retrieved from the river and eight of them have been identified.
The injured were being taken to the nearest hospital for treatment and the MSRTC was gathering update about their health condition, it said.
The MSRTC also informed that Chandrakant Eknath Patil (45) was driving the bus and Prakash Shravan Chaudhary (40) was the conductor. Both were from Amalner in Jalgaon.
The six other deceased have been identified as Chetan Ramgopal Jangid from Jaipur in Rajasthan, Jagannath Hemraj Joshi (70) from Udaipur in Rajasthan, Nibaji Ananda Patil (60), Kamalabai Nibaji Patil (55), both from Amalner in Jalagaon, Aarva Murtuja Bora (27) from Akola in Maharashtra, and Saifuddin Abbas Nurani from Indore in MP.
After getting information, Indore Divisional Commissioner (Revenue) Pawan Kumar Sharma instructed the Khargone and Dhar collectors to rush to the spot to launch a rescue operation, officials said.
Twelve people had boarded the bus in Indore, Mishra told reporters in Bhopal.
The river current was strong, he said, adding the rescue operation was on.
The bus was later pulled out of the river with the help of a crane and traffic movement on the highway was restored, officials said.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan informed Maharashtra CM Shinde and Union Home Minister Amit Shah over phone about the bus accident.
Chouhan assured Shinde that the MP government will send the bodies of the victims to Maharashtra with due respect, an official said quoting Chouhan.
The MP CM also informed Shinde that a minister had rushed to the spot to oversee the rescue operation.
Officials concerned from Jalgaon also rushed to the accident spot.
Shinde has also directed the Jalgaon collector to coordinate with the administration concerned in MP to carry out the rescue operation properly and provide immediate treatment to the injured passengers.
After getting news of the accident, Shinde immediately spoke to MP CM Chouhan and requested him to ask the Khargone and Dhar district administrations to provide necessary assistance to the accident victims.
Shinde also directed Maharashtra Chief Secretary Manu Kumar Srivastava and MSRTC’s vice chairman and managing director Shekhar Channe to provide all necessary help to the surviving passengers.
The Maharashtra CM was monitoring the relief work and he also gave instructions about handing them over the bodies of the victims to their relatives after the due process.
The Jalgaon collector also informed Shinde that the district collectorate has set up a control room having helpline numbers – 09555899091, 0257-2223180 and 0257-2217193.
The MSRTC has also set up a helpline for citizens and they can dial 022-23023940 to get information about the accident and their relatives who were in the bus.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the state government and the MSRTC were coordinating with the MP administration for the rescue operation and treatment of the injured.
“I am also in touch with Dhar collector and the state transport administration,” Fadanvis said, adding the search and rescue operation was being carried out rapidly.
Fadnavis also made a video call to Dhar Collector Pankaj Jain to get information about the accident spot and the rescue work there, according to sources.
He expressed condolence to the bereaved families and prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured passengers.
The bus was more than 10 years old and its fitness certificate was about to expire on July 27 this year, an RTO official in Maharashtra said.
Its Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificate and insurance were valid, he said.
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