BHUBANESWAR: At least 19 people were killed and 43 injured, many of them critically, when the bus they were travelling in fell 40 feet off a bridge in Odisha's Angul district today.
The mishap took place near Deulijhari when the bus from Boudh to Athamallik fell off the bridge at Puruna Manitri, DGP KB Singh said.
"So far, 19 persons have lost their lives in the incident. While 16 persons died at Athamallik, including 14 on the spot, three others succumbed during treatment at the district headquarters hospital at Angul," Dr Bidyadhar Sahu, Chief District Medical Officer, Angul, told PTI.
He said of the 43 injured admitted at the district headquarters hospital at Angul, three died while 23 others were shifted to SCB Medical College Hospital and four of the critically injured persons were airlifted to Cuttack.
State Health Minister Atanu S Nayak was camping at SCB Medical College to monitor the situation there.
"We have formed special teams of doctors and a special ward for the treatment of those injured. They have been provided medical assistance for free as per the decision of the state government," Nayak said.
Expressing grief and shock over the mishap, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced free medical treatment for the injured and ex-gratia of Rs two lakh each for the next of the kin of those killed in the accident.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also condoled the deaths on microblogging website Twitter.
In a tweet, he said, "Bus accident in Odisha's Angul district is heart-rending. My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families and injured."
Union Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and many other leaders also expressed grief over the incident.
Some of the surviving passengers of the bus claimed that the driver was talking on his mobile phone when the mishap took place even as state Transport Minister Ramesh Majhi has ordered the RTO to probe the matter.
The death toll is likely to go up as the condition of some of the injured is stated to be critical, officials said.
DGP Singh said police, fire brigade and Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force personnel have been engaged in the rescue operations and shifting of the injured persons.