48 killed as overloaded bus falls into Uttarakhand gorge

48 killed as overloaded bus falls into Uttarakhand gorge

A private bus fell into a deep gorge in Uttarakhand’s Pauri district on Sunday morning, killing at least 48 people and injuring 10 others, the police said. The 28-seater bus was carrying 58 passengers.

“The accident occurred near Gween village, close to Dhumakot, when the bus on way to Ramnagar fell into a 200-metre deep gorge killing 45 persons on the spot and leaving 13 injured,” Pauri SP Jagat Ram Joshi told PTI on the phone. The accident took place around 8.30 a.m., he said.

Three more died of injuries later during the day at the PHC, Dhumakot, where the injured were rushed after rescue teams reached the spot, Mr. Joshi said.

Two critically injured were referred to Ramnagar while eight were under treatment at Dhumakot, the SP said.

Though the exact cause of the accident was not yet known, the bus was carrying passengers much beyond its capacity, he said. According to an official, the seating capacity of the vehicle was 28.

One of the possibilities is that the bus fell into the gorge when the driver was trying to negotiate a big waterlogged pothole in the middle of the road, Mr. Joshi said.

The plunge was so forceful that the upper part of the bus separated exposing the seats in the lower part, the SP said.

Bodies recovered

All bodies were recovered and the injured rescued from the mangled remains of the vehicle, which rolled down into the gorge before crashing into a shallow stream, he said.

Rescue operations were carried out by the police and SDRF personnel, he said.

President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered their condolences. Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat visited the accident site. He ordered a magisterial probe into the accident besides announcing a compensation of ₹2 lakh to the next of kin of those killed and ₹50,000 for the injured.

Earlier, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Mr. Rawat on the phone and offered help in relief and rescue operations.