At least 42 persons were killed and several others injured when a bus carrying 50 people plunged into a canal after breaking the railing of a bridge in Murshidabad district, West Bengal, on Monday. The accident occurred at Balirghat under Daulatabad police station area.
The bus was going to the Malda district from Karimpur in the Nadia district via Murshidabad when the accident occurred. Some survivors told police that the driver was driving at high speed while talking on the mobile phone when passing the bridge.
Giving details of the accident, police said, two bodies including that of a woman were found floating in the canal while two others succumbed in the hospital. Seven injured persons were rescued and admitted to Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital.
The bus was going from Shikarpur in Nadia district to Malda. Locals claimed that around 50-60 passengers were in the bus. There was, however, no official confirmation of the number of passengers travelling in the bus. Locals who had small boats rushed to the spot to assist in rescue drive.
Angered by the alleged delay in the arrival of the police, locals torched a police vehicle and damaged a fire tender. Police used tear gas to disperse the angry mob.
Meanwhile, NDTV quoted Transport Minister Subhendu Adhikari as saying: "We have no confirmation of the number of people in the bus when it plunged into the water...Some are saying 25, others 50. We are trying to confirm how many people boarded the bus."
Later, the transport minister along with other officials rushed to the spot on a helicopter on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's instructions.
Some passengers who were rescued told reporters said the driver of the bus was talking on the phone while driving. "The bus driver was talking on mobile phone and was handling the steering wheel using only his left hand, and suddenly it rammed into the railing of the bridge and fell into the bus."
So far, four have been rescued while a few swam to safety themselves. Several rescue boats have been pressed into action.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said in Kolkata that she was rushing to the accident site. Banerjee said all efforts were being made to rescue passengers. She announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the family of those killed in the accident, while Rs one lakh would be provided to those seriously injured. Rs 50,000 would be given to the other injured persons, she said.