Bus falls into ravine, 33 killed

Bus falls into ravine, 33 killed

Tragedy: People gather at the site where a bus fell into a gorge in the Konkan region, killing 33 on Saturday. PTI

Thirty-three employees of a Maharashtra’s prominent agriculture university were killed after the bus in which they were travelling skidded off the road on a ghat section and fell into a deep gorge at Poladpur in Raigad district on Saturday. 

The clerical and administrative staff of the Dr Balasaheb Sawant Agriculture University at Dapoli in Ratnagiri district were travelling to the hill station of Mahabaleshwar in Satara district for their annual picnic. 

They started from Dapoli around 6.30 am while the accident took place around 10.30 am at the Ambenali Ghat in Poladpur, 180 km from central Mumbai.

The sole survivor was Prakash Sawant-Desai (55), an additional superintendent of the university.

It was Sawant-Desai, who mustered the courage, got a cell phone and sent SOS messages to the university and the local police, who immediately rushed to the spot.

The driver did not notice the mud on the edge of the road — and once the tyres were over it, the vehicle skidded and fell into the gorge and slid down nearly 600 feet and crashed.

The bus was completely mangled and the bodies were in a bad state, the rescuers said.

The Maharashtra government announced an ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased.

The weather was inclement with drizzle and fog.

“It was a big accident and 33 persons have died,” said Raigad district collector Vijay Suryawanshi, who coordinated with the police, a group of trekkers and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) that rushed from Pune district. “The driver lost control over the vehicle while negotiating a turn and the bus fell into the gorge,” said Raigad superintendent of police Anil Paraskar. “The administration is making all efforts to provide assistance. Senior officials and emergency management systems are in place. My thoughts are with the families who lost loved ones and prayers for speedy recovery of the injured,” Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said. The Poladpur-Mahabaleshwar road in the Sahyadri ranges is a hilly stretch and there are several sharp turns, hairpin bends and gradients. During the monsoon, it is quite foggy and a difficult road to negotiate.

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