At least 47 people died after a bus fell off a bridge into a canal in Madhya Pradesh’s Sidhi district on Tuesday, reported ANI, citing the police. At least 54 passengers were on the bus.
Sidhi Superintendent of Police Pankaj Kumawat said that 42 bodies have been handed over to the families of the deceased. The toll includes 24 men, 21 women and two children, reported News18.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that rescue operations have been called off for the day. Seven people have been rescued so far.
Sidhi District Collector Ravindra Chaudhary said the rescue operation would resume on Wednesday. He could not give the exact number of people trapped in the canal but estimated that it could be four-five people.
The bus fell into the canal near Patna village, around 80 kilometres from the Sidhi district headquarters. It was on its way from Sidhi to Satna when the driver lost control of the vehicle, according to ANI.
Teams of the National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force had reached the spot for the relief and rescue operation. Authorities also released water from the Bansagar canal into the Sihawal canal to lower the levels in the water body so that rescue operations could begin, according to ANI.
Earlier, Chouhan had directed district officials to expedite the rescue operation. He announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the families of the people who died in the accident.
“I am extremely saddened by the incident,” Chouhan said in a video message. “We stand with the families of the victims.”
Madhya Pradesh minister Tulsi Silawat said that the chief minister had been taking a “minute to minute” account of the accident since morning. “Two of us are going to Sidhi as per his instructions,” Silawat added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed grief over the deaths. “Bus accident in MP’s Sidhi is horrific,” PMO tweeted. “Condolences to the bereaved families. The local administration is actively involved in rescue and relief work.”
Modi also approved an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each from Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund for the families of the victims. A sum of Rs 50,000 will be given to those who were seriously injured.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said he was saddened by the accident. “I have spoken to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan,” he tweeted. “The local administration is providing all possible help for relief and rescue operations. I express my deepest condolences to the relatives of the deceased and wish the injured get well soon.”