39 killed in Gujarat bus accident, 24 injured

Ahmedabad, Feb 6 (IANS) Thirty-nine people were killed and 24 injured when a Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) bus fell off a river bridge in South Gujarat’s Navsari district on Friday evening, police officials said.

Expressing her condolences over those killed in the accident, Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel announced compensation of Rs.4 lakh each to their families.

According to an official communique, the chief minister has said the state government would bear the complete expenditure for the medical treatment of the injured people.

Navsari Superintendent of Police M.S. Barada said the bus carrying around 60 passengers was on its way to Unai town from Navsari city when the accident occurred in the evening. The bus was packed to capacity when it started around 6 p.m.

Barada earlier told media persons that rescue operations were on in full swing. “We have recovered 20 bodies so far. At least 15 people, including the driver and the conductor of the bus, were trapped inside the overturned bus when last reports trickled in.”

The officer said looking at the damaged bus, the chances of survival of those still inside the wreckage were dim. The accident occurred on a bridge over Purna river near Supa village on Bardoli road under Navsari rural police station area, he said.

Many of the injured, who were rushed to government hospitals in Navsari, Gandevi and other towns were reported to be in critical condition. Police said the number of casualties were being collated and may rise.

The exact cause for the accident was unclear so far but eye-witness told police that the driver took a left swerve to avoid a vehicle coming from the opposite direction, but lost control over the wheel, crashing into the side wall of the bridge and fell into the river some 40 feet below.

The police, fire brigade and ambulances rushed to the spot and with the help of the local people launched a massive rescue operation which, however, was slowed by darkness.

Arrangements for lights were made on emergency basis to continue the rescue operations at night as some portions of the bus remained trapped in mud and shallow water, police said.

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