25 killed as bus falls into Himachal reservoir



At least 25 people were killed and 21 injured Wednesday when an overloaded mini bus fell into the Gobind Sagar reservoir in Himachal Pradesh's Bilaspur district, officials said.

The bus was carrying around 50 passengers when it met with the accident near Kandraur, some 100 km from the capital Shimla, Superintendent of Police Ashok Kumar told IANS over phone.

He said prima facie it seemed that the accident occurred after the driver lost control over the vehicle.

The dead include six women and a child. Most of the victims were locals.

Rescue workers said the toll was so high as most of the passengers could not escape from the bus. Divers managed to rescue eight people from the reservoir.

Police said around 50 people were travelling in the bus at the time of the accident. An operation to locate any survivor was still on.

People in the area began rescue operations even before the district authorities reached the spot. It took hours for rescuers and police to bring out the bodies from the bus.

Divers from the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) were pressed into the rescue operation.

The bus was on its way from Rishikesh to Bilaspur town, both in Bilaspur district, when it met with the accident near the Rahian bridge.

Witnesses said rescue workers had a tough time retrieving the bus from the reservoir.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, Governor Urmila Singh and BJP's Lok Sabha member Anurag Thakur expressed shock and grief over the accident.

The chief minister directed the district administration to take all possible measures to rescue the survivors and provide them adequate relief.

He announced an ex-gratia Rs.150,000 to the next of kin of the dead. He said all medical expenses of the injured would be borne by the government.

A magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the accident, a government statement said.

This was the second major accident in the state in just a month.

Twenty three people were killed and 20 injured Aug 21 when an overcrowded mini bus skidded off the road and fell into the Baspa river, some 300 feet below a mountainous road in Kinnaur district.

Police records say over 800 people die every year in Himachal Pradesh in road accidents. Police have identified 556 accident-prone spots, including 210 on national highways. - IANS