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Managed to jump out in time as bus fell into gorge, says lone survivor of Raigad accident in Maharashtra which killed 33

33 people were killed when a bus carrying 34 people to Mahabaleshwar on a picnic fell into a deep gorge off Ambenali Ghat in Raigad on Saturday. Only one person survived as he jumped out of the bus.

mumbai Updated: Jul 28, 2018 20:43 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Raigad accident,Raigad bus accident,Maharashtra
Raigad: The group of staff members of an agriculture university in the Konkan region who were traveling in the bus, which later fell into a gorge, killing 33 passengers, in Raigad on Saturday, July 28, 2018. (PTI Photo) (PTI7_28_2018_000108B)(PTI)

Thirty-three people were killed when a bus carrying 34 people to Mahabaleshwar on a picnic fell into a deep gorge off Ambenali Ghat in Raigad district on Saturday. Only one person, Prakash Sawant Desai, survived as he jumped out of the bus.

Speaking to reporters in Poladpur, Sawant said mud and loose stones on the stretch of the ghat road caused the bus tyres to skid.

“The bus veered to the left and fell into the gorge before we could understand what was happening. Trees arrested the fall someway down. I had managed to jump out in time. I climbed my way up somehow,” he said.

When he reached the road, he saw a crowd of people.

“One of them gave me a mobile phone. I called up the police control room and informed them,” he said.

Local rescuers, policemen from Poladpur station have rushed to the spot for rescue operations. A National Disaster Response Force team from Pune has been called in.

In total, 40 people were supposed to join the trip to Mahabaleshwar, the famous hill station town in Western Maharashtra, but some of them opted out at the last moment because the bus was small and there was no space, Sawant said.

Mahabaleshwar Trackers members carry out rescue operations in the Konkan region, in Raigad on Saturday. ( PTI photo )

Pravin Randive was supposed to join his colleagues too when they set out for the weekend picnic on Saturday morning.

He could not go as he was not well, but kept checking a WhatsApp group where others were posting updates.

Suddenly, there was silence in the group.

Around 12.30pm, Randive learnt that the bus carrying his colleagues had fallen into a gorge off Ambenali ghat near Poladpur, 180 km from Mumbai.

“We were going to leave at 6.30am. But when they called me I said I cannot make it because I am not well,” Randive told reporters.

His colleagues kept posting pictures of the scenery along the route on the WhatsApp group.

“The last message came around 9.30am. They were supposed to stop for breakfast. When I messaged later, there was no response. We came to know about the accident around 12.30pm,” he said.

All those who died were in the age group of 30-45 years and some of them were unmarried, Randive added.

“Victims were employees of Agricultural University, going on a picnic. We will provide help to the kin of the deceased, but will also take steps to ensure such incidents don’t take place in the future,” said Maharasthra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, according to news agency ANI.

The Maharashtra government announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of those who died. The government will also bear the medical expenses of those injured, reported ANI.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief at the death and offered condolencesto the kin of the dead.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi also expressed pain over the incident and asked party workers in the area to “provide all possible assistance to the injured and families of those who have died”.

(With correspondent inputs)

First Published: Jul 28, 2018 20:42 IST