At least 33 people including 13 women and six children while 32 others were seriously injured when an overcrowded private transport bus fell into a gorge, near Haripur- Guler bridge 65 kilometers from the district headquarter- Dharamsala. Eighteen people, including six children and six women died on the spot, while other seriously injured died at hospital.
The ill-fated bus belonging to Happy Bus Service was on its way to Dehra from Nagrota Surian. The accident took place at 10:45 am in the morning. Seriously injured people were rushed to Primary Health Centre at Haripur and Community Health Centre Dehra, other were brought to Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College at Tanda for treatment. Nine person died at Primary Health centre in Haripur, two succumbed to the injuries at Community Centre Dehra and four person in serious condition died at Dr RPMC College, Tanda. Conductor of the bus died on the spot, while the driver who is in serious condition was brought to Dr RPMC College Tanda. Dead also included infant Alka. Two other children were identified.
As the word of accident spread in the area, local residents including taxi driver and shopkeepers from Haripur, rushed to the spot to rescue passengers. Children from Chander Dhar Guleri Degree College assisted the rescue works before the government officials arrived on the spot. Rescuers, which included police personnel had difficulty in retrieving the passengers as many of them were struck in the mangled remains of the bus that rolled down 200 feet on the right bank of Banerh Khad. Amongst the dead and injured were children of the rag pickers, staff member of the College and parents of children who had halted at Guler after dropping their wards in the private schools.
Preliminary investigation revealed that bus was carrying double the number of passenger than its total capacity of 32. Bus driver had halted the vehicle at the stop near railway station Guler. Since the Pathankot Joginder Nagar train did not arrive in time many of the passengers waiting at the station preferred to board the local bus. Eyewitnesses told Hindustan Times that rash driving was the prime reason for the accident. "Driver had been driving rash since the bus started from Jawali in the morning" said one of the passenger of the bus who did not wanted to get identified.
" Preliminary investigations suggest that overcrowding and negligent driving seems to the cause for the mishap'' said Kangra SSP, Dr Atul Fulzele who reached the spot to supervise rescue operations. Deputy Commissioner Kangra RS Gupta has ordered magisterial probe to ascertain the reason leading to accident. Additional District Magisrete Sandeep Kumar had been assigned the magisterial probe, he has been asked to submit it report within one month. Deputy Commissioner also visited the seriously injuref people at Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College and later left for inspect the spot of accident.
Government has disbursed Rs 25000 each to the next to the kin of the victims, while Rs 10000 had been given to those seriously injured. Civil Supplies Minister, Ramesh Dhawala, Former MP Chander Kumar MLA's Nikhil Rajourh and Neeraj Bharti too visted the spot of accident. Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has expressed grieve over the accident.