21 dead, 32 hurt after bus, auto collide, fall into well in Nashik
Twenty-one people were killed and 32 others injured after a state transport (ST) bus crashed into an autorickshaw, with both vehicles going off the road and falling into a well near Umarane Village in Nashik, 250km from Mumbai, on Tuesday.
Rescue operations were underway at the time of going to press.
According to the police, the accident took place around 3.30pm when the ST bus, carrying at least 43 people, was heading from Malegaon to Deola. Meanwhile, the six-seater auto-rickshaw, ferrying 10 people, was heading from Deola to Malegaon.
“The vehicles collided head-on around a curve. We have recovered 20 bodies,” said Sadashiv Waghmare, deputy superintendent of police, Kalwan. A person died during treatment in hospital.
The police said the impact of the collision caused the bus to drag the autorickshaw with it and into a 60-foot-deep well, which had water up to 10 feet. Of the 21 people killed, nine were women and one was a 11-year-old boy.
The Nashik Rural police, local villagers and medical emergency services rushed to the spot for rescue operations.
By 9pm, the police managed to pull out 33 people from the well. All of them were rushed to Deola Rural Hospital.
According to the police, a crane was used to pull the bus and auto out of the well.
Waghmare said a case of causing death due to negligence will be registered after the rescue operation is completed and a punchnama is recorded. Officials said testimonies of the injured victims will help them draw up the exact sequence of events. As of now, police said that as the vehicles crashed at the curve, it is likely that both vehicles were speeding.
Uttam Jadhav, Nashik’s regional transport office (RTO) inspector, said, “Our entire team and locals are carrying out the rescue work in all possible ways.”
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has directed the district administration to ensure all required medical help for the injured passengers. “The administration has also been directed to rope in the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for rescue-and-relief operations. It has also been directed to extend all help to the relatives of the victims and passengers,” read a statement from the chief minister’s office (CMO).
Kailas Goswami, 57, a farmer from Haraswadi village, Kannad taluka, was in the bus. “Suddenly, there was a crash and the bus plunged into the well. Passengers were screaming and shouting for help. I was stuck and unable to move. After some time, I was pulled out by locals. I have injuries all over my body. After first aid, I left for my relative’s place in Marwadi village. I am still in trauma.”
Nimba Kothawade, 53, a resident of Kalwan, said his five relatives were in the bus. He rushed to the spot as soon as he got the news. “They were all travelling to Deola from Malegaon. We found two bodies. One of my relatives is still untraceable. Two are injured and in hospital. The operations will continue the entire night,” said Kothawade.
Hemant Bharame, 31, lost his aunt, Alka More, 35. “My mother and aunt were travelling in the bus after attending a relative’s funeral in Malegaon. My aunt died and my mother suffered severe injuries. We took her to Deola hospital and later shifted her to Malegaon around 9pm,” said Bharame, who works as a labourer in Kharda village.