Kota (Rajasthan): Twenty-four people were killed and five more sustained injuries after a private bus carrying a wedding party fell into a river on the Kota-Dausa highway in Bundi district on Wednesday morning, police said.
The bus, with at least 29 people on board, was headed to Sawai Madhopur from Kota when its driver Shyam Singh apparently lost control of the vehicle while on a bridge near Papdi village under Lakheri police station limits, Lakheri Sub-Inspector Rajendra Kumar told PTI over phone.
The bus plunged into the Mej river from the bridge that had no wall or railing, he said.
Thirteen people died on the spot, including the driver, while 11 others succumbed to injuries en route to a hospital in Lakheri town, the policeman said. Police said the autopsy of all 24 bodies was done at a government hospital in Lakheri.
A mass cremation of 21 bodies took place in the Kishorepura ground in Kota while two were sent to Palaytha village of Baran district and the Srinathpuram area of Kota city. The body of a four-year-old child was buried.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the loss of lives in the accident. Quoting Modi, the Prime Minister's Office said in a tweet in Hindi, "The news of a bus falling into a river in Rajasthan's Bundi has caused immense grief. Many people lost their lives in this accident. In this hour of grief, I express my condolences to the families of the dead, as well as wish that those injured in the accident get well soon."
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot offered his condolences to the bereaved families and wished for speedy recovery of those injured.
"I am deeply saddened to learn about the tragic incident in Bundi in which 24 persons have lost lives after the bus fell into river Mej," he said in a tweet.
The chief minister also announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased.
Bundi District Collector Antar Singh Nehra told PTI that 11 women, 10 men and three children were killed in the accident, while a woman and a minor girl were among those injured.
He said three of the injured were in a state of trauma and have been sent to a hospital in Kota.
Two of the injured were discharged after treatment, Nehra further said.
After being discharged, the two people claimed that the bus lost control as one of its wheels came off, the collector quoted them as saying.
However, it has not yet been confirmed as the reason behind the accident, Nehra clarified.
The five injured persons were identified as Murli (55), a resident of Basant Vihar, Ganeshpal area of Kota city; Deepak Sindhi (18), son of Narayan; Amit (35); Kannu (13), daughter of Suresh; Manju (35), wife of Mahavir Dhobi, Lakheri SI Kumar said.
According to Murli, his family was headed to Sawai Madhopur city to offer Maayra (a wedding ritual) to his sister following his niece's wedding when the bus driver reportedly lost control and plunged the vehicle into the river from a height of 20-25 feet.
Hearing the loud sound of the bus falling into the river, nearby villagers rushed to the spot beneath the bridge and found one person coming out of the partly submerged vehicle, SI Rajendra Kumar said.
"We found the locals pulling out the people from the bus with the help of a rope and also joined the rescue operation with whatever resources were available," the SI added.
DSP Shyamsunder Vishoni said the bus has not been pulled out of the river and efforts are underway.
The cause of the accident would be ascertained only after a thorough investigation, the DSP said.
Meanwhile, Ramdev Dhobi, younger brother of one of the deceased, said, "Besides my elder brother Ramesh Dhobi, I have lost my entire maternal family including four maternal uncles, two maternal aunts, their husbands and children. All of them are gone in the accident."
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla arrived in Kota in a helicopter from New Delhi to attend the cremation. State Health Minister Raghu Sharma, Kota district Minister In-charge Pratap Singh Khachariyawas, Kota District Collector Om Kasera and other district officials were also present.