Forty-four passengers were killed on Wednesday when a private bus carrying more than 50 passengers fell into the Tons river near Chopal, 95 km from Shimla, in Himachal Pradesh.
Himachal Pradesh police confirmed the deaths, of which 31 were male, 10 were women and three were young girls.
Official sources said two of the survivors from the accident – 13-year-old Ravindra and the bus conductor – managed to jump from the bus seconds before the vehicle plunged into the river.
The bus was on its way from Vikasnagar to Tiuni (Dehradun district) in Uttarakahand, taking a 121-kilometer route that passes on the Himachal Pradesh border. The accident occurred within Himachal’s territory.
According to the conductor’s statement, the driver lost control of the vehicle at Gumma, around 80 kilometers from Vikasnagar. The bus then nose-dived to the Tons riverbank.
The Tons is the largest tributary of the Yamuna and flows through the Garhwal region in Uttarakhand, touching Himachal Pradesh.
Locals were the first to rush to the spot. Santosh Kumar, who was among the first responders, said he heard a sound when bus went off-road. “People were scattered here and there at the river bank,” he said.A medical team and personnel of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) from Dehradun were rushed to the spot. Uttarakhand’s secretary (disaster mitigation) Amit Negi was directed to be in constant touch with Himachal authorities.
Uttarakhand chief minister TS Rawat announced Rs 1 lakh ex gratia to the families of those killed, and Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured.
Deputy commissioner Rohan told IANS that 17 bodies have been identified so far. “Ten of the victims belonged to Uttarakhand and the remaining were from Himachal Pradesh,” he said.