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Odishatv Bureau

The death toll in the Uttarkashi bus accident rose to 26 with the recovery of one more body after which the search and rescue operation was concluded, officials said on Monday.

A bus carrying pilgrims from Panna district in Madhya Pradesh fell into a deep gorge near Rikhavu khadd en route to the Yamunotri temple in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand on Sunday.

Besides the driver and the helper, there were 28 passengers on board.

Four injured people are under treatment while the death toll has risen to 26 with the recovery of one more body late in the night, Uttarkashi District Disaster Management Officer Devendra Patwal said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed grief over the accident. He said, "The bus accident in Uttarakhand is extremely painful. I express my condolences to those who have lost their loved ones. The local administration under the supervision of the state government is doing all possible help..."

The Prime Minister has also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each from PMNRF for the next of kin of those who lost their lives in the accident in Uttarakhand. The injured would be given Rs 50,000 each.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has also expressed his grief at the loss of lives in the accident and spoken to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.

"It is very sad to hear about the bus of devotees falling into the gorge in Uttarakhand. I have spoken to the chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami. Local administration and SDRF teams are engaged in rescue work and the injured are being taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. NDRF is also reaching there soon," the Union Home Minister tweeted.

"Our vehicles stationed in Khajuraho will then immediately take the bodies of pilgrims to their village. We are making efforts that the bodies be brought to Madhya Pradesh with full respect and the funeral be held today itself," tweeted Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand Chief Minister has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the accident.

Dhami reached the disaster control room at Secretariat to take stock of the relief and rescue operations. Expressing grief over the accident, the Chief Minister has directed the district administration to carry out relief and rescue work expeditiously. He also instructed officials to make arrangements for proper treatment of the injured.

Pulling out the bodies and looking for survivors in the night was a challenge for the police and State Disaster Response Force personnel, officials in Uttarkashi said.

The Uttarakhand Transport Department has announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh each to the dead and Rs 40,000 to the seriously injured.

(Inputs from PTI & IANS)

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