37 dead as Mumbai-bound bus falls into river in Ratnagiri


 In a tragic incident, 37 people, including 15 passengers from Goa, were killed and 14 critically injured after a Goa-Mumbai bus in which they were travelling plunged into Jagbudi river near Khed taluka of Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra.
The 14 critically injured passengers have been admitted to the Walawalkar Hospital at Chiplun, Ratnagiri.
“Among the 15 dead people, eight were Goan, four were of Goan origin but settled in Mumbai, while three were Rajashtanis settled at Nerul (North Goa),” said the Goa transport director, Mr Arun Desai.  
Mr Desai said the bus, belonging to Mahakali Travels, was on its way to Mumbai on the Goa-Mumbai highway when the accident took place at around 3.30 a.m.
The   team of the Goa transport department that left Goa for Ratnagiri directly rushed to the hospital and then to the accident site.
“Two more dead bodies are yet to be identified… one dead body is of male and another of female,” informed Mr Desai.
He said that eight bodies have been sent to Goa in an ambulance.
However, he clarified that the names of the dead were received over telephonic conversations with officers who are at the site.  
“Our team will stay put at Khed, Ratnagiri tonight and until all bodies are identified they will not return,” he said.
The transport director informed that total 51 passengers were travelling in the bus, adding that as of now the exact reason for the accident has not been ascertained.
“As per the Khed police station version, the accident might have occurred because the bus driver lost  control of the bus after falling asleep at the wheel,” said a motor vehicle inspector, Mr Oswin Carvalho, who along with other three officers from the transport department rushed to the site to assist the injured.
He said that by the time they could reach the accident site all bodies had been retrieved from the ill-fated bus and injured shifted to the Walawalkar Hospital, which is nearly 20 km away from the site. The ill-fated bus is still at the accident site.
The Mumbai-Goa highway was closed to vehicular traffic and it was reopened at around 7.30 a.m on Tuesday.
Some bodies were beyond recognition due to the impact of the accident, causing a delay in identifying them.
It is given to understand that three cranes were used along with gas cutters to rescue the injured who were trapped in the wreckage.
As a fallout of the Khed tragedy, the transport director has issued a notice to all border check-posts to get detailed lists of passengers travelling in buses.
The transport director was helpless for nearly three hours and literally struggling to get details of passengers and was unable to answer the constant queries from the kith and kin of the passengers.
“Henceforth, all the private buses operating on all-India permit, contract carriage or temporary permit shall be required to submit detailed lists of passengers travelling in buses along with their addresses and phone numbers at the time of departure at the respective check posts,” said Mr Desai.
He said the decision was taken after the Sankhalim MLA, Dr Pramod Sawant raised the issue during a calling attention motion on Tuesday in the state legislative assembly which is in session.
The transport director said that though it was not compulsory as per the Motor Vehicle Act but having such detailed lists of passengers helps in such an eventuality to coordinate faster and provide accurate information to relatives of the passengers. [NT]