13 dead in MP’s Khalghat after Pune-bound bus plunges off bridge into Narmada
About 15-20 people, most of them from Maharashtra, were travelling in the state roadways bus on the Indore-Pune route when the accident took place on Monday morning
A Pune-bound bus crashed through the railing of a bridge across Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh’s Khalghat area, leading to the death of at least 13 people on Monday, police said.
State home minister Narottam Mishra said about 15-20 people were travelling in the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation bus on the Indore-Pune route when the incident took place in Khalghat area on the border of Khargone and Dhar districts.
Some passengers are still missing, he added.
Eight of the 11 victims who have been identified are from Maharashtra. Another three are from Rajasthan and one is from Madhya Pradesh’s Indore, police said.
Khargone superintendent of police (SP) Dharam Veer Yadav said about 12 passengers boarded the bus from Indore but some more people got in on the way. “In the absence of an eyewitness, it is hard to know the exact number of passengers,” Yadav said.
The accident took place place along the border of Dhar and Khargone districts.
Yadav said the bus (MH-40-N-9848) stopped at an eating joint on the banks of Dudhi bypass, about 12km before the accident spot at Khalghat at around 9.15 am. “The hotel owner told the police that 12-15 passengers had tea and breakfast at the hotel but some more people were sitting in the bus and didn’t get off,” said the SP.
Dhar SP Aditya Pratap Singh said, “It is being said that the bus driver lost control while overtaking another vehicle on the bridge in Khalghat. The bus fell 100 metres into Narmada riverbed after breaking the railing. The rescue operation is going on.”
The deceased have been identified by the police as driver Chandrakant Eknath Patil, 45, conductor Prakash Shravan Chaudhary, 40, Nibaji Patil, 60, his wife Kamla Patil, 55, and Avinash Pardesi, 32, all residents of Jalgaon, Maharashtra, Arva Bohra, 27, from Akola and Vishal Bahre, 33 from Dhule, Chetan Jangid, 31, from Rajasthan’s Jaipur, Jagannath Joshi, 70 from Udaipur and Raju Mor from Chittorgarh and Saifuddin Abbas from Indore, MP.
A forensic expert, who was requisitioned by the police to inspect the accident spot, said the bus appeared to be speeding when the accident took place. The driver did not have the time to apply the brakes when he lost control, the expert said. A detailed inquiry into the accident is underway.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said he was in touch with Khargone and Dhar district officials and ordered deployment of the state disaster response force (SDRF) personnel to search for the missing passengers.
“Madhya Pradesh government is trying to make all possible arrangements to respectfully send the bodies to their home town,” the chief minister said, adding that he already spoken to Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde about the accident.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed grief over the incident and announced an assistance of ₹2 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased and ₹50,000 for the injured. Chouhan announced financial assistance of ₹4 lakh each to the next of kin of the victims.
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot also expressed grief. “Deeply saddened to know that many lives have been lost when a bus fell into the Narmada river in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families,” he said in a post on Twitter.