At least 25 people were killed and 21 others were injured as a private bus in which they were travelling fell into the Gobind Sagar reservoir near Kandraur in this district on Wednesday.
The overcrowded 21-seater bus met with the accident near Rahian bridge around 8.45 am. There were 47 passengers in the bus. A few passengers managed to jump out of the bus and survived with injuries.
Passengers even occupied the roof of the bus that was on its way from Rishikesh village to Ghumarwin town, both in Bilaspur district. Majority of the passengers were office-goers and students.
Of the dead, 19 were men and six women. All barring one deceased have been identified. Most of the deceased were locals.
Locals reached the spot and started rescue operations. Police and home guard jawans besides the Bhakra Beas Management Board divers joined the rescue. Services of local fishermen were also taken.
The injured were shifted to the regional hospital in Bilaspur and the civil hospital at Ghumarwin.
Eyewitnesses described speeding as the main reason for the accident, while others said a technical snag led to the accident. Director general of police Sanjay Kumar, who, along with principal secretary revenue Tarun Sridhar, arrived on the scene to oversee the rescue operations, told HT, “Survivors told us that they heard a strange sound in the bus before it fell into the reservoir. Only the probe will clarify as to what really led to the accident.”
Meanwhile, the Bilaspur additional district magistrate has been told to conduct an inquiry into the accident and submit the report in a week.
Governor Urmila Singh and chief minister Virbhadra Singh expressed grief at the accident. The chief minister said a sum of Rs 10,000 each had been given as immediate relief to the next of the kin of the deceased and Rs 5,000 each to the injured, adding that an ex-gratia amount of Rs 1.5 lakh to the next of kin of those who died in the mishap would soon be distributed. The chief minister said all expenses incurred on the treatment of the injured would be taken care of by the government.