Two men were killed and two others injured after a boulder rolled from the hills and landed on a luxury bus at Malshej Ghat highway on Sunday.
The deceased have been identified as Vedant Naik, 21, and Walab Male 21, both residents of Vile Parle.
The bus was on its way to Mumbai from Shivneri Fort, Pune. The police said more than 100 people from Vile Parle had gone trekking to the fort and were travelling in three luxury buses.
“The incident took place around 6pm on Sunday on Malshej Ghat stretch. A huge boulder from the mountain fell on one of the buses, killing two people instantly. The boulder broke through the roof of the bus,” said Rajesh Pradhan, superintendent of police, Thane rural police.
“Personnel from Tokawade police station reached the spot with the highway traffic police. The victims were rushed to the hospital,” Pradhan added.
Naik and Male, who were taken to a local hospital, were declared dead on arrival. The injured were then shifted to a private hospital in Kalyan.
“The driver informed that he tried to steer the bus when he saw it rolling down, but it hit the bus anyway,” said a police officer from Tokawade police station.
Officials from National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) said a tender for sanctioning funds to take prevent accidents was pending for a long time. Though the Rs10-crore proposal has been approved last year, the work has not begin in full swing.
“Some work on the project has begun. We have been trying our best to make the stretch safe for travelling; iron mesh has been installed to prevent landslides,” said NHAI officials.
A senior officer from highway traffic police said they have already sent a notification to prevent accidents. “Every year, we sent such notifications asking to take precaution on this stretch,” added the officer.
Sources said in 2012-13, around 25 to 30 incidents of landslides were reported on the stretch - National Highway 222 — during monsoon.