An escort car in the convoy of President Pranab Mukherjee skidded off the road and plunged into a gorge near Darjeeling on Friday morning, injuring five security personnel.
President Mukherjee was on his way to Bagdogra from where he was supposed to return to Delhi after a three-day trip when the accident happened around 11.30am in Sonada, about 16 kilometres from Darjeeling.
The car involved in the accident was the last vehicle in the President’s cavalcade with chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s convoy immediately following it.
An officer of the central Intelligence Bureau, a special superintendent of CID, two sub-inspectors of West Bengal police and a state police constable, who was driving the car, were seriously injured in the accident.
“After Pranabda’s car moved on, the third car slipped and rolled down the incline. There were five men in the vehicle, all have been rescued. We immediately informed Pranabda and stopped all the vehicles to start rescue efforts,” the chief minister said.
“The roads become slippery in the monsoons. Men from state police, the security forces in other cars and others joined the rescue efforts.”
She was also seen addressing the security personnel in the car through a public address system, urging them to keep calm as policemen began efforts to pull them up with ropes.
“There was a lot of vegetation along the incline which saved the occupants,” a police officer said.
They were rushed to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri.
The President’s convoy moved on and waited at Kurseong that is about 16 km from the spot of the accident.
The schedules of the President and the chief minister was delayed by a few minutes, but both will reach Delhi in the afternoon.