Twenty people were killed and 13 others injured when a private bus skidded off the road and rolled down a 700-ft-deep gorge near Bharadi village in Nohradhar sub-tehsil of Sirmour district on Friday morning. The accident spot is located about 160 km from Shimla town.
The bus (HP-55-5274) left Punnardhar for Solan around 7am and met with an accident about 25 minutes later. Seven people died while being taken to a Nohradhar hospital, while 11 succumbed to their injuries on the way to a Rajgarh hospital. Two others died while being taken to hospitals in Solan and Shimla.
Police officials who reached the spot included deputy superintendent of police (DSP, headquarters) Khazana Ram. They said negligent driving and the road's poor condition probably led to the mishap.
Deputy commissioner Priyatu Mandal has ordered a judicial inquiry and constituted a four-member probe team under the subdivisional magistrate (SDM), Sangrah. The DC said the team would submit its report within 15 days.
Those killed were identified as Poonam Kumari (24), Manish Sharma (20), Ramanand Sagar (40), Nisha (17), Pooja (18), Ravinder (20), Neelam (18), Harichand (55), Rohit (16) and Kuldeep (26) of Bharadi village in Sirmour district; Daya Devi (60), Dayanand (58), Ramesh (28), Basanti (70) Hemwanti (36), Manisha (17) and Balwant (28) of Punnardhar in Sirmour district; and Virender Kumar (32), Kamla (30) and Sunita (23) of Panah in Solan district. The victims included five Class-12 students who were on their way to school at Nohradhar. Sources told HT that three persons miraculously escaped unhurt as they fell out of the bus when it rolled down the gorge.
Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, former assembly speaker Gangu Ram Musafir and former MP Pratibha Singh expressed condolences over the tragedy.
Sirmour district is among the remotest places in the state. The poor frequency of buses and scarcity of modes of transport often lead to overcrowding of vehicles. The absence of crash barriers and parapets also makes driving unsafe.