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14 feared killed as bus falls into Beas in Himachal
Kuldeep Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Mandi, August 17
At least 14 persons were feared killed (nine of them feared washed away in the Beas) and nine injured seriously when a private bus (HP-34-7924) failed to negotiate a turn and rolled down 300 feet into the Beas at Jogni Maud, 24 km from here, on the National Highway-21 at 9.30 am today.

The nine injured have been identified as Daya Shankar (Ferozabad, UP), Bishan Das (Chachiyot, Mandi), Vinod Kumar (Bari Chowki, Hamirpur), Pushap Raj (co-driver, Sarkaghat, Mandi), Narinder (Bara Mandi), Ram Lal (Batad, Mandi), Utam Chand (Bara, Mandi), Varinder (Ferozpur, UP).

The condition of the five injured admitted to the zonal hospital here is “critical but stable”. They were given first aid. They received head and multiple injuries, said Dr Turi Devi, Medical Superintendent.

Four of the injured were also referred to Mandi hospital after they got first-aid at Nagwani dispensary and their condition was reported to be stable.

Nine persons feared to be swept by the Beas include the bus driver and the conductor and Mr Rajinder Vaidya, of Bheuli Mandi. “He boarded the bus at 8.30 am for Kulu where he worked in a bank. His mobile phone has not been working since we heard about the accident,” said Mr Punit Kapur, Rajinder’s cousin. The bodies of four of the 14 feared killed in the accident have been identified as that of Sanjiv Kumar (Gagal, Balh, Mandi), Lesser Kumar (Deori, Mandi Sadar), Keshav Ram (Chachiyot Mandi) and Baldev (Snor Mandi). One body remained unidentified. The bodies of the missing remained untraced.

The bus was pulled out to extract the trapped bodies with the help of recovery van brought four hours after the accident. Only the body of Sanjiv Kumar was extracted from the broken bus. Eyewitnesses said the accident look place due to high speed as the driver lost control of the vehicle.

The co-driver Pushap Raj said the bus skidded. “I do not know what happened after that”.

The bus bearing Kulu regional transport office number was reported to be dilapidated as it was sold thrice before its present owner, bought it last year. The bus was going from Mandi to Kulu with over 24 persons on board.

Relatives of passengers said that private buses in Kulu-Mandi-Bilaspur district do not issue tickets to passengers and the drivers are not checked for speed and licences.

Fortythree accidents have taken place on the highway between Aut and Mandi from January 2004.

The stretch is ‘narrow and has sharp turns. But most of the accidents that took place at this stretch were caused by ‘human error and rash driving, said Mandi SP Ajay Yadav.

Nobody knows the exact number of passengers in the bus. Enquiries revealed that there were 20-24 passengers in the bus. Highway remained blocked from 12 noon to 3.30.

The Mandi district administration has announced relief of Rs 10, 000 to the kin of those killed and Rs 5000 to those injured. Around six persons feared missing were feared washed away by Beas as the bus remained upside down in the water for five hours. The ADC and the ADM, Mandi, and Police officials monitored relief work which was hampered by rain.

Regional Transport Officers, Kulu and Mandi, informed that both RTOs had been transferred.

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