SAMBALPUR: Call it the grace of God or sheer luck. An eight-month-old girl and her mother had a miraculous escape in the Gayal Ghat accident in Deogarh district on Sunday evening. The tragic incident claimed 27 lives and left 11 injured.
While the woman, Laxmipriya Patel, suffered head injuries and is convalescing at VIMSAR, Burla, her baby Deepika managed to scrape through and is with her mother in the hospital.
But, bad news awaits Laxmipriya, who has lost her husband Rajkumar and five-year-old son Deepak in the accident. She is unaware of the deaths as she was not informed about it due to her condition.
Recounting the tragic incident, Laxmipriya said she was sitting in the inner side of the bus with Deepika in her lap. Since they had performed that entire night most of them were sleeping. They were woken up by the frightening screams of some co-passengers who were shouting at the bus driver for driving at reckless speed. Before she could realise anything the bus skid off and fell into the valley, leaving her unconscious.
Laxmipriya of Jagannathnagar village in Barpali of Bargarh district works as a dancer in Bharati Gana Natya, the opera party. Her husband worked as an electrician. They had got married some six years back and have been working for the troupe ever since.
Another lucky survivor, Puja Chhatria (24) of Tangarpada in Tora of Bargarh town, narrated the crucial minutes before the bus nose-dived into the ravine. She said the driver was driving at breakneck speed despite being cautioned by the passengers about the narrow ghat road. The bus rolled down the steep terrain taking along with it the 45 members of the opera troupe. The last sounds that she could recollect were those of a loud thud and ear piercing screams of people. When Puja gained consciousness, she found her husband, Subhanath Chhatria, dead.
The troupe had performed at Dengurjhar village under Tileibani block of Deogarh district on Saturday night and left the village at around 5 pm on Sunday. After about an hour into the journey, the unexpected happened.
While six injured persons were shifted to VIMSAR on Sunday night itself, five others, who were under treatment at Deogarh District Headquarters Hospital, were shifted to VIMSAR on Monday.
Director of VIMSAR, Dr Sonamali Bag informed that condition of two patients continues to be critical and all require medical treatment and help is being extended to the patients and their attendants.