36 killed as bus falls into canal in Bengal

Last Updated 29 January 2018, 19:17 IST

At least 36 people were killed after the bus carrying 65 passengers crashed through the railings of a bridge and plunged into a canal in West Bengal's Murshidabad district on Monday morning.

Soumik Hossain, the chairman of local Domkal Municipality, told DH over the phone that so far 36 bodies, including that of nine women and two children have been fished out from the accident spot near Daulatabad, around 220 km from Kolkata.

"We have tried to gather information from the survivors about the number of passengers in the bus at the time of the accident. According to a rough estimate, we think around 13 persons are still missing," said Hossain.

The incident happened when the driver of the bus on its way to Malda from Karimpur, lost control while crossing the Balirghat bridge on the Sonar Ratnakar canal. Eyewitnesses said the driver swerved wildly on the bridge and plunged around 70 feet into the canal waters after he lost control of the vehicle while trying to overtake another vehicle.

"There was dense fog in the morning and the bus was travelling very fast. It tried to overtake a vehicle on the bridge and suddenly came face-to-face with a truck. In his effort to avoid a collision, the driver lost control and crashed through the railings of the bridge, fell into the canal," said a senior police officer of Daulatabad.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari, Karimpur MLA Mahua Maitra and Transport Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay rushed to the spot to coordinate rescue efforts.

"It is a very unfortunate and sad incident. The administration is closely monitoring the situation. All necessary steps have been taken. Initially, rescue efforts were hampered due to the deep waters of the canal, but all agencies are working in tandem to rescue the passengers," Mamata said, condoling the deaths.

The state government has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of the deceased, Rs 1 lakh to the grievously injured and Rs 50,000 to other injured passengers.

Earlier in the day, local residents resorted to violent protests near the bridge alleging delay in response from the administration.

(Published 29 January 2018, 05:10 IST)

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