18 dead, 26 injured in major bus accident near Mandi



6Eighteen persons died and 26 others injured, some of them seriously, when a rashly driven private bus skidded off the road and plunged into Beas river, near Mandi town Saturday. There are two couples among dead. At least 14 persons died on the spot while others succumbed to their injuries later, some on way to the regional hospital Mandi and some after reaching there. One person who was being taken to Shimla’s Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC) due to his critical situation, also died on the way.

The bus no HP 65 3444, belonging to Mandi-based Kanika travels, was on its way to Kullu from Mandi and had around 45 passengers travelling in it. Most of them were locals either from Mandi or Kullu districts. Some of the passengers, who were still in the state of shock, blamed the driver for overspeeding to overtake a truck, 6 kms ahead of Mandi town. To avert hitting a biker just in front of the bus, he turned the vehicle to the left side and crashed with parapets .

The speeding bus managed to erase four parapets and eventually rolled down a 200-feet gorge and plunged into the river, turning turtle. The site of the accident is presently a ghastly look with bodies scattered all over the river bank. Social media flashed horrifying pictures of the dead and injured from the site, beside scenes of recuse.

Additional District Magistrate Vivek Chandel, who was at the spot, said, “All passengers on seat numbers between 1 and 12 died due to impact of its tail portion hitting the surface inside the water.” Of the dead, 16 were male passengers and two females. Inquiries said that among dead were a Mandi couple, who had their daughter’s wedding on November 25, on their way to distribute invitation cards to relatives.

The casualty could have been higher if the members of the local truck union, whose office was just next to the accident, didn’t immediately come to rescue the injured. Rescue teams and medical officials reached after union members had already began efforts to fish out dead and had also brought the injured out of water.

Inspector General of Police (central) Ajay Yadav, said after visting the spot that, “Preliminary investigations show the cause was negligence and rash driving. The police have registered an FIR under sections 279, 337 and 304-A IPC.”We will verify the details of the driving licence of the driver, and his investigate into driving skills” he added.

State Transport Minister G S Bali said a probe has been ordered into the accident. Those injured or next of the kins have been given immediate relief by the administration.He said the transport department will give Rs 4 lakh each to next of kins of the deceased while the injured will get Rs 1 lakh each.

List of the dead identified include: Subash Malhotra and wife Hem Lata (Mandi), Chuda Mani and his wife Lata Devi, village Deghar (Mandi), Durga Dass village Saroa, Chachot (Mandi), Hari Singh village Basta, Pandoh (Mandi) Gopal village Nihari, Aut (Mandi), Surinder Pal village Humgram (Mandi), Uday Prakash village Curachitesh Thunag (Mandi), Prakash Chand village, Shiva Vadar Sadar (Mandi) Prakesh Chand, Surari ( Mandi) and Hukam Chand village Khukhan, Chachyot (Mandi).