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Published On: Sat, Jul 28th, 2018

Maharashtra bus accident: Death toll rises to 33

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accident-raigarh-1458908251_835x547RAIGAD (Maharashtra): 33 people were killed on Saturday after a bus carrying staff of an agriculture university slipped off the road into a deep gorge in Raigad district of Maharashtra.

The private bus, on its way to Mahabaleshwar from Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district for a weekend picnic, skidded off the Mumbai-Goa highway, and plunged 500 feet into a ravine this morning. 33 of the 34 people inside the bus died.
The Raigad police along with National Disaster Response Force teams from Pune and local Mahabaleshwar hikers-trekkers groups are engaged in a massive operation to retrieve the bodies from the ravine fighting heavy rains, with clouds descending on the thickly forested valley and hills.
Rescue efforts were severely hampered by heavy rains lashing the Western Ghats, besides poor connectivity in the remote hills in the area.The accident came to notice after one of the injured passengers managed to climb up and alerted the authorities.
A person identified as Prakash Sawant has been pulled out alive from the mangled remains of the bus. Desai miraculously survived with only minor injuries. He says he held onto tree branches as the bus was falling in the ravine near Poladpur, about 175 kilometres from Mumbai.
“It felt like the bus had slipped on mud and then it went down. I was dragged but I held on to whatever I could. I hung to branches while the bus went down,” Mr Sawant-Desai, who is an Assistant Director at the Dr Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth in Ratnagiri, told reporters.
He somehow managed to climb to safety and alerted the university and police authorities of the accident around 10:30 am. He says he had to climb over 500 feet, as there was no mobile phone range in the valley below in the treacherous Ambenali Ghat section.

“On reaching the road at the top, I came into the mobile range and called up the police and university officials,” news agency IANS quoted him as saying. NDRF teams from Pune have rushed to the accident site near the popular tourist destinations of Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani. According to initial reports, the staff members of Dapoli Agriculture University were going for a picnic when the accident took place.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra government on Saturday announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to te kin of the deceased. The government will also bear the medical expenses of the injured.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the tragic accident. Taking to Twitter, he wrote; “pained by the loss of lives due to the bus accident. My condolences to those who lost their loved ones”.
Expressing grief over the loss of lives in this accident, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday asked his party workers to provide all possible assistance to injured and the family of those were killed.
“I’m sorry to hear about the terrible bus accident in Raigad, Maharashtra in which a large number of people have been killed and many others injured. I appeal to Congress party workers in the area to provide all possible assistance to the injured & families of those who have died,” he tweeted.
(With inputs from IANS)

 

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