July 24, 2001, Chandigarh, India
47 feared dead as truck falls into canal
Ropar, July 23
About 15 pilgrims, who either standing on the tool box of the truck or hung on to the sides of the truck swam to the banks. Two of them were admitted to the Anandpur Sahib Civil Hospital and the rest were given first-aid treatment at the Kiratpur Sahib police station. The entire body of the truck submerged in the canal and the remaining passengers were feared dead.
The truck fell into the canal at about 4.10 p.m. At that time about 12,000 cusecs of water was flowing in the canal. After the accident the district administration authorities informed the BBMB authorities and asked them to stop the flow of water into the canal. But the sources said that the water in the canal could be stopped only after nearly two hour.
Sukhdev Singh, one of the survivors, said most of the pilgrims had come to the Naina Devi shrine from Dirba village in Sangrur district. After paying obeisance at the Naina Devi shrine they decided to visit the Baba Budan Shah Gurdwara. Sukhdev Singh, who lost five members of his family, stated that there were about 70 pilgrims in the ill-fated truck. Sahib Singh, another survivor, said the truck was not in gear while descending from the hillock and so the brakes could not be applied due to a high speed and it crashed into the canal wall. Most of the passengers in thetruck might be trapped inside the body of the truck.
According to information available, the survivors include Sukhdev, Lakhwinder, Sahib Singh, Jagdish Singh, Harpal, Ram Singh, Lal Singh, Hardeep Singh, Jagsir, Karamjit, Binder Singh, Satpal and Pinki.
Till reports last came in 23 passengers, who are feared dead in the accident have been identified as Balwinder Kaur, Jaggi, Jaspreet Kaur, Gurmeet Kaur, Jagiro, Karamjit, Roda Singh, Gora Singh, Deep Singh (driver of the truck), Wajir Singh, Karnail Singh, Vidhya Devi, Ranjit Singh, Ritu, Harmesh Singh, Rani, Ladi, Chanchal, Babu, Murti, Golo, Amandeep and Kala. Most of them are the kin of the survivors.
The district administration has summoned divers from the BBMB to fish out the bodies from the canal. However, due to the high speed of water current in the canal the work of taking out the bodies was going slow and would pick up only after the water recedes, the sources added.
The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr G.S. Grewal, who reached the site said the bodies would be fished out only during the night. The SSP, Ropar, Mr GPS Bhullar was among other officers, who were present at the site.
Tribune News Service adds from Chandigarh: The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has expressed shock and anguish over the accident near Anandpur Sahib on Monday.
He has directed the district administration to speed up the rescue operations and transportation of bodies of the victims to their native places.
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