42 feared dead in Kullu mishap

At least 42 people are feared dead after an overcrowded bus skidded off the road and plunged into Beas river on Kullu-Ani road at Jhiri in Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday afternoon.

Rescue teams comprising four trained river rafters recovered 32 bodies and rescued 24 people trapped in the wreckage of the ill-fated bus. Half a dozen persons are still missing.

The bus with licence number HP 66-3855 was on its way to Ani, bordering Mandi, from Kullu. Most of the victims were women and school students who were returning home after the day's work.

The bus, locals said, turned turtle after it skidded off the road causing high fatalities as passengers could not find any outlet to escape from the bus. Heavy cranes were deployed to reposition the bus, which according to the eyewitnesses was completely submerged into the river. Rescuers had to break open the windows to save the injured persons.

"Thirteen people have been discharged from the hospital, while 11 others, seven of them at Kullu, are still undergoing medical treatment," said Superintendent of Police Mandi R S Negi.

The accident, he said, could be the result of rash driving. "Survivors told police that the driver was negligent and perhaps talking on his cellphone when the accident took place. He also jumped out of the bus before the vehicle plunged into the river. There is no information whether he has survived or died by drowning," said the SP and confirmed that an FIR of rash and negligent driving has been registered.

A magisterial probe has also been ordered.

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