Mahabaleshwar bus accident: Lone survivor of Maharashtra mishap says six had opted out last minute from ill-fated picnic trip

Thirty-three of the 34 people in a bus were killed after it fell into a 500-feet deep gorge near Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra's Raigad district on Saturday. Eleven bodies have been recovered so far.

The bus had rolled down a hill road in Ambenali Ghat, near Poladpur town, after the driver lost control while taking a turn. A team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is at the spot to pull out the bodies from the ill-fated vehicle.

A dozen ambulances and 15 doctors are at the scene, Additional Superintendent of Police Sanjay Patil said. The lone survivor, Prakash Sawant, said mud and loose stones on that particular stretch of the ghat road caused the bus tyres to skid. "The bus veered to the left and fell into the gorge before we could understand what was happening. Trees arrested the fall someway down. I had managed to jump out in time. I climbed my way up somehow," he said, recounting the tragedy. When Sawant reached the road, he saw a crowd of people.

"One of them gave me a mobile phone. I called up the police control room and informed them," he said. Originally, 40 people were supposed to join the trip to Mahabaleshwar, but some of them opted out at the last moment because the bus was small and there was no space, Sawant said.

 Mahabaleshwar bus accident: Lone survivor of Maharashtra mishap says six had opted out last minute from ill-fated picnic trip

The accident site where a bus carrying a group of staff members of an agriculture university, fell into a 500-ft gorge in Raigad, killing 33 passengers. PTI

The Maharashtra government has also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of those who died, while it said that state would bear the treatment costs of those injured in the accident.

"We'll provide help to the kin of deceased, but will also take steps to ensure such incidents don't take place in future," Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis told reporters.

Superintendent of Police Anil Paraskar told PTI the passengers were on their way to Mahabaleshwar, a hill station in Satara district, for a picnic, when the driver lost control over the vehicle while negotiating a turn and fell into the gorge. The accident took place around 12.30 pm. All passengers on the bus were the staff of Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth at Dapoli in Raigad district. Fadnavis expressed his condolences and said the government was doing everything it could to help. "Pained to know about the loss of lives in the Mahabaleshwar bus accident. Administration taking all efforts to provide the required ssistance. Senior officials and emergency management systems in place. My thoughts are with the families who lost loved ones and prayers for speedy recovery of injured," he tweeted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also offered his consolation to the families of the deceased.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi also expressed sorrow over the accident. "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 and families of those who have died," Rahul tweeted

Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan said, "Extremely sad to hear about the accident of a bus near Poladprur in Raigad district carrying 33 employees of Konkan Agriculture University. My heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this horrifying accident."

Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde said the accident was very unfortunate. "I pay my homage to those who perished," he said. A bus, on its way to a hill station, fell into a gorge in Raigad district of Maharashtra this afternoon killing 33 passengers, senior officials said.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jul 29, 2018 13:35:15 IST