PATNA: A speeding truck driver ran over and killed 12 Hindu pilgrims yesterday who were sleeping on the side of a busy road in north east, while another bus crash claimed 21 lives further north.
Four women were among the 12 pilgrims to lose their lives while a further 18 others were injured in a pre-dawn accident on a national highway in the Aurangabad district of Bihar state.
Upendra Kumar Sharma, superintendent of police for Aurangabad, said more than 50 pilgrims were resting up for the night after visiting a temple in neighbouring Jharkhand state when the lorry driver lost control.
“The pilgrims had parked their bus and were sleeping in the open nearby when the speeding vehicle crushed them to death,” he said.
Hours later, a bus swerved off a mountain road into a deep gorge killing 21 passengers in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, police said.
The Himachal Road Transport Corporation bus was on way from Shimla to Savera Khad in Kumarsain area of the district when the accident occurred near Kadhar Ghat in Basantpur area, around 60 km from Shimla.
“Seventeen bodies have been moved out of the gorge by rescue teams. Three other bodies are still trapped in the mangled bus,” D.W. Negi, a senior state police officer, said.
The driver of the bus jumped out of the vehicle, Negi added.
Locals said the accident spot has been experiencing continuous rainfall for the past many days. “The bus was giving way to another vehicle when the road, where the ill-fated bus was stationed, collapsed,” said a witness.
The injured have been taken to the Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital in Shimla.
Seven others were injured after the bus rolled down into the 300-foot (91-metre) deep gorge.
The region has been lashed by heavy monsoon rains in the past few days, resulting in poor visibility.
People in the area began rescue operations even before the district authorities reached the spot.