31 passengers were killed and 34 people were injured, 12 critically so, when an overcrowded long distance passenger bus skidded off the road and into a ravine in a remote area in northern India on Wednesday.
The accident occurred on National Highway 44 in the early morning on the 8th of August 2012, in dark and rainy conditions. According to eye witness reports, the bus that was carrying over 60 people skidded across the highway before plunging into the gorge shortly before sunrise. The accident happened in a rural part of the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya, and is one of the worst road accidents that North East India has seen in recent times.
The bus, an overnight service operated by Sherowali Travels bus company was certainly overloaded, being only registered to carry 50 passengers. It was on its way to Agartala from the city of Guwahati when the driver appeared to lose control in the slippery road conditions and skidded off the road down a 400 foot ravine close to the border of Assam and Meghalaya in the East Jaintia Hills district at around 4am on Wednesday morning.
The bodies of the deceased were transported to Tripura on Thursday after the government of the Meghalaya state organized a special envoy of caskets and vehicles to transport the bodies of the victims.
Local authorities have confirmed that 15 of the victims have so far been identified. Abhishekh Chandra, the district deputy commissioner of Tripura, has arrived to personally escort the victim’s bodies back to Tripura. Abhishekh Bhagotia, the DC of the East Jaintia Hills district where the accident occurred is in charge of the rescue and recovery operation. According to Bhagotia, appropriate procedures such as post mortem examinations have already been completed on the bodies of the victims.
The survivors of the accident were taken to the Khliehriat Community Health Center, and several have been released. Eight of the more seriously injured passengers have been transferred to Silchar Medical College Hospital where they are currently receiving treatment for their injuries.
It is thought that the driver of the bus, who was among those killed in the accident, was driving recklessly at the time of the incident and police are investigating allegations that he was driving under the influence of alcohol.
Once the investigation has been completed, authorities are expected to determine appropriate procedures for financial compensation for those injured in the accident and the families of the deceased individuals.