Vadodara, Apr 16: In the worst road accident in Gujarat, 44 people, including 42 students, were killed when a State Road Transport Corporation bus plunged into the Narmada main canal near Bodeli town, about 65 km from here, early today.
Though the bus was reportedly carrying about 60 students from Baghpur for their school exams at Bodeli, only four of them could swim to safety and have been admitted to a local hospital in critical condition. Vadodara District Collector Vijay Nehra, who left for the spot immediately after hearing about the incident, said 44 bodies had so far been retrieved from the canal and search operation was on.
Apart from the driver and conductor of the bus, the deceased included 32 girls and 10 boys in the age group of 12 to 15 years, all reportedly belonging to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
Meanwhile, the state government has ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident. The government has also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1 lakh each to the families of those killed in the tragedy. Besides top officials of the district, two senior cabinet ministers --Nitin Patel and Amit Shah--rushed to Bodeli to oversee the rescue and relief operations.
Talking to UNI, Collector Nehra said all the 44 bodies recovered from the bus and the 15-foot deep canal water had been identified and handed over to their relatives after autopsy was conducted by a team of doctors at the Bodeli civil hospital.
The accident took place at around 0630 hrs when the bus driver identified as Madhusudan Arya reportedly lost his control over the vehicle on the 50-foot high overbridge and plunged into the Narmada canal breaking its concrete railing.