Kolkata: Thirty six people, including two children, were killed and several were missing after a bus with around 50 passengers crashed through a bridge railing and plunged into a canal in West Bengal's Murshidabad district on Monday morning, officials said.
Nine injured passengers were admitted to the Baharampur Medical College and Hospital. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has rushed to the spot. The Malda-bound public transport bus fell off the Nalini Buske bridge into the Gobra canal in Balirghat area around 6 a.m. After hours of intense effort, the bus was fully fished out of the canal by deploying four cranes, with hundreds of villagers as also anxious relatives of the passengers gathered on the canal banks.
"Two bodies were found floating in the canal. Later, 34 more people were found dead after the bus was partially lifted from the canal and rescuers managed to enter and extricate the bodies," said a civic official. The dead included two children. Seven bodies have been identified, the police said. There were ghastly scenes at the spot as mangled limbs and other body parts of the victims were found protruding out of the bus, as it was being lifted.
Lifeless bodies of a number of passengers were seen in sitting position, testifying to the suddenness of the tragedy. Slippers and bags floated in the water. The dead bodies were being sent to the Baharampur Medical College and Hospital for post mortem. The air hung heavy at the spot as also the hospital with the cries and wails of the bereaved, who found the sudden loss of their dear ones unbearable.
Personnel of the National Disaster Response Force and state Disaster Management Group, divers along with district officials were manning the rescue operation, which was still on. Police were yet to confirm the number of passengers who were in the bus at the time of the accident. But an injured said close to 50 people were in the ill-fated bus that started its journey from Shikarpur in Nadia district. Banerjee, who reached the spot in the evening along with Transport Minister Subhendu Adhikari and other officials, visited the hospital and discussed with the doctors about the condition of the victims.
She also spoke to some of the injured and assured their kin of the best possible treatment. Earlier in the day, the Chief Minister announced compensation of Rs five lakh each to the bereaved families. She visited the hospital and discussed with the doctors about the condition of the victims. She also announced compensation of Rs 50,000 to Rs one lakh for the injured .
Following the incident, angry locals pelted police with stones and torched two police vehicles, accusing them of arriving late for rescue operations. Stones were hurled at a fire tender that was sent there to put out the fire. Police lobbed teargas shells and baton-charged the protesters. Primary investigation suggests the driver lost control of the vehicle, the police said. (IANS)