Four dead, several missing as bus plunges into Murshidabad canal

Image used for representational purpose

Image used for representational purpose

At least 36 people were killed in eastern India's West Bengal state early Monday after a speeding passenger bus swerved off a bridge and plunged into a river, police said. The accident took place at Balirghat under Daulatabad Police Station area at around 6 am.

The bus was carrying 56 passengers and while some managed to swim across the canal, majority were trapped inside the drowned bus.

The bus crashed into the bridge's side railing before plummeting 12 metres (40 feet) into the local Bhairab river. The injured have been admitted to Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata.

Alleging delay in rescue operations, angry local people set a police vehicle on fire and vandalised two others.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari, Karimpur MLA Mahua Maitra and Transport Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay rushed to the spot to coordinate rescue efforts.

Hundreds of villagers as well as anxious relatives of the passengers gathered on the canal banks as four cranes were pressed into service to fish out the bus submerged in the water.

Initial investigations and eye witness accounts said the bus driver, who also died in the accident, lost control while trying to overtake another vehicle on the bridge. Those with lesser injuries will get Rs 50,000. She also announced Rs 5 lakh compensation for the next of kin of the dead and Rs one lakh to the family of those seriously injured.

The district magistrate, senior police officers including the superintendent of police were at the spot to oversee the rescue operation. When a fire engine arrived, stones were hurled at it. Later police had to resort to mild lathicharge and firing of tear gas shells to disperse the crowd.

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