BHUBANESWAR/JAJPUR: At least two pilgrims from Odisha were killed and 41 others injured after a private bus in which they were travelling overturned on Bhimshankar-Manchhar road in Pune on Friday night. The deceased have been identified as Prafulla Kumar Sahoo (40) of Nathasahi under Panikoili police limits in Jajpur district and Mamata Mishra (42) of Deogarh district.
Sources said the mishap occurred when a group of Odia tourists was returning after visiting ‘Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga’ in two buses. The ill-fated bus carrying 45 tourists over-turned while negotiating a curve near Pokhri Ghat section, around 80 kms from Pune. The accident occurred at around 11 pm.
According to reports, Banamali Panda, a travel agent of Dasarathapur area in Jajpur district, took 100 people from across the State to Maharashtra on a pilgrimage last week. Sahoo was part of the team. They travelled in a train to Pune. After getting down at Pune railway station, they boarded two buses to pay a visit to Bhimsankar temple.
A team of Junnar police, led by Deputy SP Jayashree Desai, rushed to the spot and rescued the passengers. They were later joined by Ghodegaon police and para-medical staff of local health centres.
Sahoo and Mishra were pinned under the bus and by the time a crane came to lift the vehicle, they had succumbed. The condition of five tourists was stated to be critical. They have been shifted to a private hospital in Pune.
Police attributed the reason behind the incident to over-speeding and darkness. “The Ghat is treacherous and someone not acquainted with the route needs to be extremely careful while driving. It was completely dark and the driver lost control while taking sharp turn,” Desai told Express.
Rescue and relief operations were started within 30 minutes of the incident. The casualties would have been more, if the bus had plunged into the gorge of about 620 feet. Immediate response from local police and fire services staff managed to minimise the casualties. A case was registered by Ghodegaon police under Pune Rural SP while the bus driver arrested, Desai added.
On October 21 night, an Odia pilgrim, Sudhir Kumar Behera (25) of Aruha village under Dharmasala police limits in Jajpur district was killed and 11 others were injured when a private bus in which they were travelling collided head on with a tractor near the Debapur Ghati in Nasik district of Maharashtra. The bus was on its way to Nasik after the pilgrims paid a visit to Sai Baba temple at Shirdi.