M A I N   N E W S

19 killed in HP bus mishap
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, June 30
As many 19 persons were killed and 15 injured, four of them seriously, when a private bus rolled down about 250 ft down the hill slope near Ghanhatti , 13 km from here, today.

The ill-fated bus of Sharma Travels was on its way from Dhami to Shimla.There were about 45 passengers on board in the 28-seater bus when the mishap occurred. While nine persons died on the spot, seven died on way to hospital and two died at Indira Gandhi Medical College Hospital.

The roof of the vehicle came off as it rolled downhill as a result of which the passengers were thrown out. Most of the victims were employees who worked in various offices in Shimla. Hem Raj, the driver, was battling for life.

While the Additional District Magistrate, Mr Ajay Sharma, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Mr O.P.Shant, and Mr Madan Lal. DSP, rushed to the spot to supervise the rescue operations, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tarun Kapoor, and the Superintendent of Police, Mr A.P.Singh, were present at the hospital.

The injured gave different versions of what prima facie looked a case
of negligent driving. The bus was moving uphill, fell down from the wrong side, which indicated that the driver was either overtaking another vehicle or had lost control over the vehicle. Mr Jagdish Thakur, an employee of the Town and Country Planning Department who was fortunate to have escaped with injuries, said the accident occurred when
the driver tried to overtake another vehicle. However, Mr Naresh, another injured, said the driver was engaged in conversation with a passenger when it veered to the wrong side and fell down.

The driver of another bus, which was also moving along, said the driver of the doomed bus was driving the bus rashly and had over taken him earlier. In fact, he had cautioned him to be more careful.

The government has ordered a magisterial probe into the accident. Mr Ajay Sharma, Additional District Magistrate, will conduct the inquiry.

Destiny was at play once again. One of the two employees of the state Minority Development and Finance Corporation who daily commuted to office from Ghanhatti died, while the other had a providential escape. Tej Prakash boarded the bus and it turned out to be his final journey, while his colleague Mr D.R.Mehta found it too crowded and decided to wait for the next bus. As luck would have it the vehicle met with an accident minutes after it left Ghanhatti.

The Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, who returned after a four-day tour of the tribal areas, went straight to hospital to enquire about the well-being of the injured. He was accompanied by Mrs Pratibha Singh, MP, and Mr Kuldeep Kumar, Industries Minster. Mr Suresh Bhardwaj, the state BJP chief, also visited the hospital. The state BJP leaders, including Mr Shanta Kumar and Mr P.K.Dhumal, have expressed shock over the tragic accident and conveyed their sympathies to the bereaved families.

Those killed have been identified as Bhaskaranand (54) of Majhyar village,Tej Prakash (40)of Bharech, Lakshmi Nand Sharma(47) of Kanori, Kuldeep (28) of Arlot, Chuni Lal(40) of Nawta, Laik Ram(62) of Tapakri, Krishan Chand (37) of Halog, Kali Ram(52) of Kanodi, Dina Nath(44) of Kainti, Kewal Dev(46) of Beenu,Chet Ram(60) of Sheel, Amar Dev(30) of Kufri, Rajinder(28) of Nalogdi, Leela Dut(45) of Kumarsain ,Prakash Chand (25) of Dalimu , Heera Lal(55) of Tiun, Om Prakash (32) of Dalimu and Manoj Kumar Sharma(25) of Shalhol.

Meanwhile Mr G.S Bali, Transport Minister, has announced a relief of Rs 1 lakh to the dependent of those killed in the accident. He said Rs 10,000 had been provided as immediate relief to next of kin of each victim and Rs 2,000 each to the injured. 





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