Guwahati, Apr 20 (UNI) At least 52 people of a marriage party drowned late last night when a bus carrying them fell into a pond near Sarupeta in Barpeta district of lower Asom late last night, police said today.
So far 51 bodies have been retrieved from the water and two more are still missing as the Army, CRPF and police authorities were working round-the-clock to pump out the water.
Altogether 27 of them were rescued of whom only one had major injuries. Among the dead were 19 men, 24 women and eight children.
''As the bus was traveling on a village road, it fell into the pond while trying to cross a bridge,'' Additional Superintendent of Police Jiban Singh said while confirming the incident, one of the worst in Asom in recent times.
The bus was packed to capacity and the marriage party was travelling from Roha of Nagaon district to the bride's house near Sarupeta. The accident occurred about two kilometres from the bride's house at a place called Goumura and the groom is in hospital in a critical condition.
Villagers rushed to the spot immediately and rescued 27 injured people from the bus, which was completely immersed in water.
Darkness and heavy rains hampered their efforts and this morning 47 bodies were recovered after the bus was raised by cranes. Later five more bodies were recovered. The authorities suspect that two more bodies are still in the water.
The bus had almost crossed the small bridge, when the soil, softened by heavy overnight rain, gave in resulting in the vehicle plunging into the pond, police said. The mishap took place after the driver lost control of the vehicle on the muddy village road at Sarupeta and it fell into the water body around 2300 hrs.
The police said the rescue operation was launched at night amid heavy rains with the help of Army personnel. After initial attempts to pull the bus out with ropes failed, two cranes were brought in from nearby Bongaigaon district to retrieve it, the source said.
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