At least 13 passengers were killed after their bus heading towards Maharashtra fell into the Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh’s Dhar district on Monday, a senior government official said.
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said 15 people were rescued.
Twelve people had boarded the bus in Indore, he told reporters in Bhopal.
The bus, belonging to the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), was believed to be carrying 30 to 32 people, another official said.
It broke the railing of a bridge on the National Highway No.3 (Agra-Mumbai road) near Khalghat, situated close to Dhar and Khargone borders, and then fell into the river, he said.
According to MSRTC officials, the bus left from MP’s Indore city around 7.30 am and was heading to Amalner in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district, located about 260 km from Dhar.
Twelve bodies have been retrieved from the bus, MP Home Department’s Additional Chief Secretary Dr Rajesh Rajora told PTI.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has rushed to the spot, he added.
After getting information, Indore Divisional Commissioner (Revenue) Pawan Kumar Sharma instructed the Khargone and Dhar collectors to rush to the spot to launch a rescue operation, officials said.
The river current was strong, Mishra said, adding the rescue operation was on.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan spoke to Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to inform them about the bus accident.
Chouhan assured Shinde that the MP government will send the bodies of the victims to Maharashtra with due respect, an official said quoting Chouhan.
The MP CM also informed Shinde that a minister had rushed to the spot to oversee the rescue operation.
Officials concerned from Jalgaon also rushed to the accident spot.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis expressed grief over the loss of lives in the accident, and said the state government and the MSRTC were coordinating with the MP administration for the rescue operation and treatment of the injured.
“I am also in touch with Dhar collector and the state transport administration,” Fadanvis said, adding the search and rescue operation was being carried out rapidly.
He expressed condolence to the bereaved families and prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured passengers.
The bus was more than 10 years old and its fitness certificate was about to expire on July 27 this year, an RTO official in Maharashtra said.
Its Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificate and insurance were valid, he said.
The MSRTC informed that Chandrakant Eknath Patil was driving the bus and Prakash Shravan Chaudhary was the conductor.
The MSRTC has also set up a helpline for citizens and they can dial 022-23023940 to get information about the accident and their relatives who were in the bus.