Nine people were killed and eight injured when a Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) bus rolled down a gorge near Bairagarh in the remote Tissa sub-division, 100 km from Chamba, on Thursday.
The bus was on its way from Chamba to Killar in the tribal Pangi sub-division. Three women and a child were among those killed. The injured were hospitalised at Tissa. One of the victims later succumbed to injuries at the hospital.
Chamba assistant superintendent of police (ASP) Kulwant Thakur said that the bus skidded off the road around noon when the driver attempted to cross a stretch damaged by a landslide.
"According to eyewitnesses, the driver, who was also injured, asked the passengers to alight from the bus as the road was narrow and badly damaged," Thakur said.
While most of the passengers got off the bus, several remained on board. As the driver tried to ply the bus over the damaged road, a portion of the road caved in and the vehicle rolled down a 100-feet gorge.
Chamba deputy commissioner (DC) M Sudha Devi rushed to the spot with rescue teams, comprising police and health officials. Residents of Bairagarh were the first to reach the accident site and inform the authorities.
Meanwhile, governor Acharya Dev Vrat and chief minister Virbhadra Singh have expressed grief over the mishap.
The CM directed the district administration to provide immediate relief to the affected families.
State transport minister GS Bali also expressed grief over the bus accident and constituted a committee to be headed by Tissa sub-divisional magistrate to probe the cause of the accident. The committee will submit its report within 15 days.
Bali said the HRTC would bear the treatment expenses of all injured persons. He directed the corporation to provide immediate relief of `25,000 to the next of kin of the deceased.
Besides, the district administration provided immediate relief of `10,000 each to the kin of the deceased, `5,000 each to the injured.
Forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri and Dalhousie MLA Asha Kumar also expressed sorrow over the accident.
List of deceased
Salochna, Pritmas village, Chamba
Beas Dev, Salooni village, Chamba
Reena Devi, Baijnath, Kangra
Bhag Singh, Churah, Chamba
Roshan Lal and Chand Ram, Bhanjradu, Chamba
Maan Dei, Tindi village, Lahaul Spiti
Dev Singh, Devi Kothi village, Chamba
A deceased boy is yet to be identified.
Manjir Begam, Junhu village, Chamba
Ramesh Kumar, Devi Kothi village, Chamba
Sanjeev Kumar (conductor)
Hem Raj (driver)
Ayush, Chakla Luddu village, Chamba
Chatro Ram, Kathwad, Chamba
Kishna Devi, Chakla Luddu, Chamba
Meena, Chakla Luddu, Chamba