55 pilgrims dead as bus falls into gorge

In one of the biggest and deadly bus mishap in the country, as many as 55 people were killed and several were injured after a state-owned Road Transport Corporation bus carrying pilgrims from a temple in the hills of Telangana’s Jagtiyal district plunged off a road this morning.

The incident took place between 11.30 am and 12 pm when the bus returning from Kondagattu temple lost its control and fell into the gorge. The injured have all been shifted to area government hospital in Jagtial and Karimnagar district headquarters.

The bus with at least 70 people on board was returning from the popular Anjaneya Swamy temple in Kondagattu to Jagtial when the accident occurred near Shanivarapet village. Police suspect failure of brakes on the crowded road leading to the temple led to the accident. The driver, who also died in the accident, reportedly lost control as he tried to avoid another bus on the route.  

In earlier such occasions in the country, maxium of 51 people were died when similar bus mishaps were reported in Simla and Kashmir vally, respectively. Meanwhile, it has come to light that the driver Srinivas was recently transferred to Jagtial depot and he had no experience driving on the ghat road. It was, in fact, only his second trip on the ghat roads.

Authorities recovered bodies of five children, 32 females and 15 males before calling off the rescue operation. The injured are being shifted to Jagitial government hospital, police said. The toll could go up as the condition of some of the injured was stated to be critical. While locals were quick to step in for rescue and relief, Jagitial collector Sharath and other top officials also rushed to the accident spot along with the rescue teams.

Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao expressed shock over the accident and conveyed his condolences. He directed officials to provide immediate medical assistance to the injured. He also announced an ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of those killed.

Transport minister P Mahender Reddy and finance minister Etala Rajender reached the spot. A detailed inquiry is ordered and the transport minister said that stringent action would be taken on those found at fault.

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