CHANDIGARH: At least 44 people were killed and another 32 were injured when a private bus skidded off the road and fell into a 300-metre deep gorge at Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh. The bus fell in a nullah near Dhoth Morh in Banjar tehsil, some 50 km from Kullu town.
Superintendent of Police, Kullu, Shalini Agnihotri said the bus was on its way to Gada Gushaini from Kullu. The injured were admitted to hospitals in Kullu. Most of the victims were from Kullu district.
The number of casualties could rise as many passengers were travelling atop the bus.
Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya Devvrat and Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur expressed grief over the tragic accident. In their condolence messages, they prayed for peace to the departed souls and strength to the bereaved family members, an official spokesperson said.
The chief minister has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident. Thakur also asked the administration to provide best possible medicare to the injured passengers.
The Kullu administration announced an immediate relief of Rs 50,000 each to the kin of the deceased and the injured.
"Deeply saddened by the bus accident in Kullu. Condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. I hope the injured recover soon. The Himachal Pradesh Government is providing all possible assistance that is required," the prime minister's office tweeted quoting Modi.
Expressing his heartfelt condolences to the families of those killed in the incident, Gandhi asked Congress workers in the area to help the victims.
"I am sad over the bus accident in Kullu in Himachal Pradesh. I express my heartfelt condolences to the families of those killed in this accident and pray for early recovery of the injured. I urge Congress party workers in the area to help the affected people," he said in a tweet in Hindi.
Most of the victims were residents of various areas in Kullu district.
Talking to PTI, Piyush Tewari, founder of SaveLIFE Foundation said, "It's a shame that mass-casualty bus crashes have become a norm in India, especially in hilly states like Himachal Pradesh."
"The state government must immediately order a summary audit of all roads, and engineers and contractors responsible for missing basic installations like crash barriers must be booked for causing countless deaths and injuries," he said.
(With PTI inputs)