BHOPAL: Forty-seven people, including 24 men, 21 women and two young children, drowned in Bansagar canal when a packed bus heading towards Satna from Sidhi district skidded off the road and fell into it on Tuesday morning. The accident took place near Sharda Patna village, under Rampur Nanki police station, around 7.30 am. Around 55 people had crowded into the 35-seater bus. Seventeen girl students, who were on their way to attend the entrance exam of ANM in Satna, are among those dead.
Sources said the passengers had boarded the bus around 4.30 in the morning from the Sidhi bus stand. The driver had heard there was a traffic jam on the highway at Chuhia Ghat and he took a short cut. He drove down a narrow road constructed along the canal, which is part of the Bansagar project. Somewhere along the road, the driver lost control of his vehicle and the bus fell into the water.
As the bus plunged into the canal, some of the students and other passengers crowding near the door jumped off the vehicle and onto the bank. They raised an alarm and passersby rushed to the site to save the passengers. Some of them called the police. Seven people, including the driver, Balandru Vishwakrma, managed to swim to safety.
Post-mortem examination has been conducted on all the bodies, which have been handed over to the families and next of kin. A magisterial probe has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.
‘Rescue teams in action’ : I-G, Rewa Range, Umesh Joga told Free Press that teams of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), police and district administration were engaged in the rescue work. Till evening, 47 deaths were reported: 37 bodies were found trapped inside the bus, 9 bodies were found floating and one victim died in hospital.
Joga added that four boats had been pressed into operation to spot any survivors in the water. The SPs of the entire range reached the spot and took part in the rescue work.
President Ramnath Kovind, PM Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and former chief minister Kamal Nath expressed their grief over the accident.
PM Modi has approved an ex gratia payment of Rs 2 lakh each for the next-of-kin of those dead. CM Chouhan has announced an ex gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh each for the families of the deceased.
CM prays for missing persons: ‘I’m constantly monitoring the situation. I’m in touch with senior officials engaged in the rescue work,’ CM Chouhan told reporters in Bhopal. ‘I’ve also sent water resources minister Tulsiram Silawat and MoS for panchayat Ramkhelawan Patel to the spot in a state plane,’ Chouhan said. In view of the accident, the CM has cancelled the ‘grih pravesh’ (house-warming ceremony) to be attended virtually by Union home minister Amit Shah. Shah was to take part in this programme, scheduled to be held at 11 am at Minto Hall, in Bhopal, for beneficiaries of over 100,000 houses constructed in MP under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). BOX3: Braveheart saves 2 Braveheart Shivrani saved two of the passengers who were drowning in the canal.