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At least 36 dead as bus plunges off bridge in Bengal’s Murshidabad

The driver lost control of the vehicle and the bus fell off the Nalini Buske bridge into the canal around 6am.

india Updated: Jan 29, 2018 22:42 IST
Sreyasi Pal, Hindustan Times, Berhampore
Bus accident,Bus plunges into canal,Kolkata
A Malda-bound bus fell into a canal in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district on Monday. (ANI Photo)

At least 36 persons were killed after the bus they were travelling in smashed through the railing of a bridge and plunged into a canal at Daulatabad in Berhampore district of West Bengal on Monday.

Till 7:00 pm, rescuers fished out 36 bodies even as four cranes pulled the bus out of the canal, which flows into the Jalangi river, a tributary of the Hooghly.

District magistrate P Ulaganathan confirmed 36 were killed in the accident.

The toll is likely to rise as the North Bengal State Transport Corporation bus, headed from Domkal to Murshidabad, had more than 52 people in it, according to those who survived.

Rescue efforts continued late in the evening with the help of floodlights.

There was confusion over the reason of the accident. While some claimed the driver was trying to overtake another bus, others alleged the driver was speaking on his mobile phone.

Soon after the incident, locals clashed with police over alleged delay in rescue operations. Angry villagers torched a police vehicle, vandalised another and even threw stones at a fire brigade. Police resorted to baton-charging and fired teargas shells to control the crowd, and called in disaster response forces.

Some police personnel, including the additional SP (headquarters), Anish Sarkar, were injured.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee took a helicopter in the afternoon to reach the spot along with transport minister Suvendu Adhikari to oversee rescue operations.

She visited the Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital, where the victims and bodies were taken, and said she had asked officials and doctors to help affected families identify the victims and receive the bodies.

Earlier in Kolkata, she announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the families of those killed, Rs 1 lakh for the critically injured and Rs 50,000 for those injured.

“The water was deep and the vehicle got completely submerged, causing difficulty in starting the operation immediately,” Adhikari told the media.

Cranes were deployed to pull out the vehicle only after divers managed to locate the bus under the water.

A passenger who was rescued said the bus started from Karimpur around 5:30 am and was travelling fast when the accident took place. She also claimed that all the 52 seats in the bus were occupied and a few were also standing.

Ibrahim Mondal, a resident of nearby Maharajpur village, said he rushed to the spot immediately on learning about the incident, but didn’t find any policemen there. “Later, several policemen reached the spot, but they had to no equipment to start rescue operations.”

The mishap comes close on the heels of two similar incidents in the state. On January 17, eight persons were killed in Kharagpur when a bus fell into a canal. Three days later, nine persons died when a bus fell into a ditch in Begunbari in Murshidabad district.

On January 26, in a similar accident, 13 people lost their lives after a bus fell into a river at Kolhapur in Maharashtra.

First Published: Jan 29, 2018 18:48 IST