Murshidabad accident toll rises to 44, Bengal starts booking bus drivers seen using phones | Hindustan Times
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Murshidabad accident toll rises to 44, Bengal starts booking bus drivers seen using phones

On Wednesday, additional SP of North 24 Parganas district, Avijit Banerjee, arrested Surajit Majumdar, the driver of a school bus. He was booked for reckless driving.

kolkata Updated: Feb 01, 2018 19:13 IST
Sreyasi Pal
The bus which fell into Ghogra Canal in Murshidabad on Monday being pulled out on Tuesday.
The bus which fell into Ghogra Canal in Murshidabad on Monday being pulled out on Tuesday.(AFP File Photo)

Death toll in the January 29 bus accident at Murshidabad district in Bengal has risen to 44. Rescue teams on Wednesday recovered the body of Rishikesh Sharma, a resident of Jalangi. On Thursday morning, the body of Haji Abdul Malek (72), a resident of Domkal, was fished out of the canal where the bus fell after smashing through the concrete railing of the bridge above. Both victims are residents of Murshidabad district.

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

Sukumar Haldar, the boatman who took the lead role in rescue operation, saw Malek but failed to save the septuagenarian. “I saw Haji saheb swimming in the middle of the canal and desperately trying to reach the bank. I rowed fast to reach him and even managed to touch his head. But I failed to hold his hand and he drowned in front of my eyes,” said Haldar.

Since Wednesday, police across the state have started filing cases against people found using phones while driving. On Wednesday, additional SP of North 24 Parganas district, Avijit Banerjee, arrested Surajit Majumdar, the driver of a school bus. He was booked for reckless driving. In Murshidabad, police are keeping an eye on private and government buses and issuing public notice to create awareness.

Read: Accident due to fog: 9 dead as bus falls into ditch in West Bengal

On January 29, the ill-fated bus of the North Bengal State Transport Corporation was carrying around 55 passengers from Karimpur in Nadia district to Malda district. It fell off the Balirghat bridge at Doulatabad in Murshidabad. Passengers who had a miraculous escape told the police that Sentu Sheikh, the driver, was talking on the phone while trying to overtake another vehicle. He failed to control the bus, jumped the pavement and hit the railing, they alleged.

On Thursday morning, a forensic team reached the accident site and collected samples. The team also spoke to local people and rescue workers.

Read: Indore school bus accident: Inquiry report blames DPS management

The recovery of 44 bodies has somehow convinced local people and government officers that all those who were reported to be missing have been found. Also, the police have not received any fresh report regarding a missing passenger. The search operations however continued till Thursday afternoon.

Emani Biswas, the government nominee in the district Regional Transport Office (RTO) said, “RTO board members will hold a crucial meeting on Friday. The state transport department has already issued some instructions for drivers. We will discuss how these can be enforced effectively.”