Shimla, April 20 (IANS) Seven of the 45 passengers who were killed when a private bus fell into a Himachal Pradesh river are yet to be identified even after 24 hours of the accident, an official said on Thursday.
Two people, including the conductor, managed to escape by jumping off the bus belonging to an Uttarakhand operator as it skidded off the road and fell into the Tons river, a tributary of the Yamuna, more than 250 metres below the road.
The accident spot, 12 km from the Uttarakhand border, is near Gumma in Nerwa tehsil, some 190 km from the state capital. It is one of the remotest places in the state.
Sub-divisional Magistrate Anil Chauhan said seven bodies, which are badly mutilated, are yet to be identified. He said three bodies were identified on Thursday.
“All the bodies have been sent to the government hospital in Nerwa,” Chauhan told IANS.
Nerwa town is some 30 km from the accident spot.
Of the 45 victims from the bus, 13 belonged to Himachal Pradesh, 18 to Uttarakhand, four to Uttar Pradesh, two were from Nepal, and one came from Bihar.
The bus was on its way to Tuini from Vikasnagar town (both in Uttarakhand), via Himachal Pradesh.
Rescue workers said the road where the accident occurred was badly damaged and there was no parapet to prevent the vehicle from rolling down.
Himachal Pradesh Transport Minister G.S. Bali has ordered a probe to ascertain what caused the accident.
Claiming mechanical failure, the only surviving passenger, Naresh Chauhan, said that one of the leaf springs of the bus snapped just before the accident.
“The driver and the conductor got down from the bus when the leaf spring broke down. After inspecting the leaf spring, they continued with the journey,” he told the police.
Superintendent of Police D.W. Negi told reporters in Shimla that bus conductor Tulsi Ram who fled from the accident spot was later apprehended.
More than 1,000 people die every year in road accidents in Himachal Pradesh.
Police records blame rash driving, overloading, untrained drivers and poor roads among other factors, for the rise in fatal oad accidents in Himachal Pradesh.