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Raigad bus accident’s lone survivor was saved from death by a tree

Prakash Sawant-Desai, who was among the 34 on board a mini bus that feel into a 300-feet gorge in Maharahstra’s Raigad, was thrown out of the vehicle as it fell down. A tree broke his fall while his remaining companions were killed.

pune Updated: Jul 29, 2018 19:10 IST
Shrinivas Deshpande
Shrinivas Deshpande
Hindustan Times, Pune
Lone survivor,Raigad bus accident,thrown off bus
Assistant superintendent Prakash Sawant-Desai was the only survivor among the 34 occupants of the mini-bus which met with a tragic accident . (HT PHOTO )

For Prakash Sawant-Desai, a fun trip with his colleagues turned into a tragic nightmare on Saturday when the mini bus they were travelling in fell off the road down a 300-feet gorge in Ambenali Ghat in Maharastra’s Raigad district.

Thirty bodies have been recovered, and officials fear that the others may have been killed in the accident, making Desai the lone survivor so far.

An assistant superintendent at the Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth, Desai was thrown off the bus who managed to cling to a tree as the bus rolled down the valley to doom and death.

Desai suffered injuries on his hands and legs, but was not hurt grievously. He told university officials that he managed to pull himself up, walk up the ghat and call for help from a mobile phone. Completely shaken by the loss of his colleagues, Desai remained in shock even after people began gathering around him.

A total of 34 people, including two drivers, were on the bus which was travelling from Dapoli to Mahableshwar.

According to the institute’s registrar Ketan Chaudhary, the bus was carrying 32 non-teaching staff from the Agricultural Engineering Department. Dealing with exams, finance and administration, the group had applied to go on a study tour to the Regional Wheat Rust Research Station at Mahableshwar. “This was partly an outing and partly a study tour and such visits by university teams happen frequently,” a university employee said.

NDRF personnel at the accident site at Ambenali Ghat in Raigad in Maharashtra. ( Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo )

Since last week, the hilly Mahableshwar and surrounding areas have been witnessing heavy rainfall.

On Saturday morning after breakfast, the university staffers boarded the bus at around 6 am and left for Mahabaleshwar. The vehicle encountered heavy rains around 11:30 am while crossing the Ambenali Ghat in the Sahyadri mountain range bus. It then skidded and fell into the gorge.

Sanjay Bhave, director of extension department of the university said, “Sawant climbed up the gorge and tried to call us on his mobile but did not get the signal easily. Finally, he succeeded and informed us about the mishap.”

Two other employees of the university – Pravin Randive and Ajit Anant Jadhav – also escaped the tragedy as they decided not to join the group on the trip at the last minute. Randive said he had been receiving updates from the group that morning. “I was in contact with them till 9:30 am. They were sharing photographs on WhatsApp,” he said.

Jadhav, who had planned the tour and sent a request letter to the university, changed his plans to visit Haridwar for a certificate course in yoga.

First Published: Jul 29, 2018 14:32 IST