At least 14 persons were killed and 16 others injured when a bus fell into a water-filled stone quarry in Madhya Pradesh’s Ratlam district on Friday morning, police said.
More than 30 passengers were on board the ill-fated bus when it met with the accident around 10.30am near Namli village, about 14 kilometre from the district headquarters.
Five somehow managed to escape unhurt, while several others went missing, according to police.
The vehicle belonging to Mamta Bus Service was on its way to Jaora from Ratlam.
Additional superintendent of police Prashant Choubey said prima facie it appeared that the driver lost control of the bus due to some technical snag in the steering. As a result of which the bus veered off the road and plunged into the pit filled with rainwater.
Eye witnesses, however, claimed the bus went out of control after a tyre burst.
Police and district administration officials immediately rushed to the spot after the incident and launched a rescue operation. An NDRF team was also called from Bhopal to help the effort.
So far, 14 bodies were fished out.
All bodies were brought to the Ratlam district hospital. 10 bodies were identified and handed over to family after post-mortem.
Injured were also admitted to the district hospital, police said.
Death toll may rise as condition of many injured were critical.
The rescue operation would continue for few more hours, rescuers said.
Following the incident the district administration decided to notify the spots where stone quarries are located to “prevent similar mishap” in future, district collector B Chandraskhekhar said.
Administration would put up proper fencing and take other safety measure too around such spots, he added.
Prime minister Narendra Modi, who was visiting the state, and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan expressed grief over the tragedy.
“Extremely distressed by the loss of lives caused by the bus accident in Ratlam, MP. My thoughts are with the bereaved families,” the PMO tweeted.
In the tweet Modi also wished quick recovery for the injured.
State chief minister announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for next of kin of all the deceased.
The state government also announced free treatment for the injured.