Twenty two persons were killed, and 31 injured, when an overloaded private bus skidded off the road and plunged into a 500 feet gorge at Sanai village in Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh on Thursday evening.
The victims include three women and 19 men.
Only eight bodies have been identified so far due to heavy slush on the spot, and most of them are from nearby villages. Even the rescue workers faced difficulty in shifting the injured from the spot to Indira Gandhi Medical College Hospital in Shimla, as Kufri township (located on the route) was full of traffic chaos due to movement of apple trucks).
The accident spot is 50 kilometres north east of state capital Shimla.
The ill-fated bus numbered HP-63-0369 was bound for Shimla from Sharounta in Rohroo sub division. It met with the accident at around 4.30 PM on Shimla-Kotkhai state highway in the apple belt, which is already under scanner for being in a bad shape since a Chinese company took up its widening last year under a World Bank project.
"The injured have been rushed to the nearby civil hospital, Theog and Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital in Shimla," said District Police Chief, Shimla, R.M.Sharma. He said the rains hampered recovery of the bodies.
"The local villagers were the first to reach the spot and start the rescue operations, before the officials of district administration reached the spot," said a local youth, Digvijay Singh from the spot.
However, the reason of the accident is the failure of the brakes of the bus, according to district authorities.
Leader of opposition, Vidya Stokes, who too rushed to the spot, told Hindustan Times over phone that the reason had to do much with the messy condition of the road, which has been dug out badly from all sides from Theog to Hatkoti in Monsoons.
"We have been pointing it out regularly because of the problems faced in apple transportation also, but the government is not moved," she said.
This was the second major road accident in the state in less than 24 hours. Only on Wednesday evening, 39 persons were killed in a truck accident in Mandi district.
The chief minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal and governor, Urmila Singh have expressed grief over the accident. Horticulture Minister, Narender Bragta was there on the spot to inspect the rescue operations.