Himachal bus accident toll 40, driver held

Kullu: The toll rose to 40 in the accident of a Himachal Pradesh bus which skidded off the road and plunged into the Beas river a day earlier, and the driver of the bus was arrested today, police said.

Director General of Police B. Kamal Kumar said driver Mintu, who jumped off the bus just before the vehicle plunged into the river yesterday, was talking on cellphone at the time of the accident. He was arrested from Kullu town today morning.

The 42-seater private bus carrying over 70 passengers was going to Ani town from Kullu when it fell into the river near Jhari, some 20 km from here. The government has ordered a magisterial probe into the accident.

“A team of experts headed by assistant inspector general (Rajesh Dharmani) has been sent to the spot from the police headquarters (in Shimla) to investigate the case,” the police chief said in a statement.

Mandi Deputy Commissioner Davesh Kumar told reporters that four to five people were still missing. He said search operation was going on along the banks of the river to locate the missing.

The accident spot, known for white water rafting, is 250 km from the state capital Shimla and located on the border of Kullu and Mandi districts.

Rescue workers said rafters rescued 17 passengers trapped in the wreckage of the bus.

Witnesses said the administration had a tough time in extricating the victims from the bus, although villagers and private rafters started the rescue operations well before the authorities could reach the spot.

Police sources said most of the passengers were going to attend a three-day local festival at Ani, some 90 km from Kullu.

Most of the accident victims belonged to Kullu, Ani and Banjar towns.


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