Marriage party's bus rolls off bridge; 31 die
Thirty-one people were killed in Assam where a bus carrying a marriage party plunged into a pond on Monday night.
The accident took place when a bus carrying a marriage party fell into a 40-feet deep pond in Kamrup (rural) district after the wooden bridge it was crossing gave in.
Thrity-one passengers, including 12 women, were killed in the mishap last night.
The bus was going to Dihu from Guwahati.
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Image: The ill-fated bus
Locals upset with delayed response
Among the killed were the bridegroom Naba Kumar Sarma, his parents and friends. Three children were also among the victims, police said, adding it was not clear as to how many passengers were travelling in the bus.
Six critically injured passengers were rescued and admitted to Mukundo Kakoti Civil hospital in neighbouring Nalbari district, the police said.
Locals in Kamrup were upset with the delayed response of the National Disaster Rescue Force. The Force, which arrived at the spot at 6 am on Tuesday, was sent back by them.
Sources of the rescue force said they could not start rescue operations at night due to the non-availability of night vision equipment.
Locals saved six passengers
Rubbishing the claims, the locals said they had rushed to the spot with lanterns and fished out the bodies from the pond and managed to save the lives of six passengers.
The locals were also upset about the poor maintenance of the bridge which had no side railings. Coming down heavily on the PWD authorities for not repairing the bridge, they said a similar accident had occurred on the bridge 5 years ago in which 12 people were killed.
According to eyewitnesses, there was a speed breaker before the wooden bridge which the driver failed to see and the vehicle plunged into the pond.
The All Assam Students Union said the wooden bridge was narrow and has witnessed many accidents in the past.
Wooden bridge had no side railings
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has ordered a high-level inquiry into the Hajo accident.
Gogoi instructed the PWD to immediately replace the wooden bridge in Hajo with a concrete one and announced an ex-gratia grant of Rs one lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to each injured in the two accidents.
Kamrup (Rural) district deputy commissioner Supriyo Kumar Roy has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the accident. The inquiry will be conducted by additional deputy commissioner Krishna Gobinda Bhuyan, who will submit the report within 15 days.
A search was on for the missing bus passengers by the local people with the help of the police and the Army, official sources said, adding the prompt action of the locals saved the lives of six persons.
Disaster response team's take
The NDRF commandant told reporters at the accident site in Hajo that the force was informed about the mishap only around 7.30 am.
However, locals claimed that the NDRF, located near the accident site, was informed about the accident around 11 on Monday night, but they came only on Tuesday morning.
Some of the deceased have been identified as Naba Kumar Sarma (groom) (32), his father Biren Sarma (65), sisters Jumi Devi (27) and Gitanjali Devi (24), brother-in-law Gopal Sarma, uncle Dugdharam Sarma (72), aunt Anima Devi (55) and her son Manjit Sarma (22), Gopal Sarma (36).