Bhopal/Sidhi/Rewa (MP), Feb 16 (PTI) A last minute route diversion due to a heavy traffic jam proved fatal for most passengers of a private bus in Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday even as tales of bravery and human instinct to help those in distress emerged from the tragedy.
Showing immense courage, five members of a local family, including a girl named Shivrani Lonia and her brother - all aged between 16 and 22 years - saved seven passengers but one of them died later during treatment.
Passengers unsuccessfully tried to break the windows of the ill-fated bus, carrying more than 55 people, including students, when it rolled down into a canal after skidding off the road near a village in Sidhi district, said a survivor.
At least 45 passengers, including 20 women, were killed in the accident which took place in the morning.
The bus was speeding and the driver fled as soon as the bus fell into the canal.
'The bus got filled with water and people frantically tried to break the window panes to save themselves but failed, said Vibha Prajapati, who was going to Satna to appear in an examination for ANM (Auxiliary Nursing Midwifery).
Prajapati, with tears rolling down her cheeks, told reporters she tried to save her brother, who was travelling with her in the bus, but does not where he is now.
I brought my brother half-way but he was left behind.
Nobody is searching for my brother, she said.
Prajapati said the bus was carrying 30-35 students who were going for appearing for the ANM examination in Satna.
She said the bus was overcrowded and at least 15-20 passengers were standing and three persons were sitting on some of the seats meant for two.
There should be at least 55 passengers in the bus.
Some people got off at Churhat (a town between Sidhi and Satna) because there was no seat for them in the bus, Prajapati said.
A witness to the tragedy, Shivrani Lonia said the ill-fated bus was speeding and skidded off the road and rolled down into the water-filled canal.
I saw the speeding bus coming from there (pointing towards a direction) and it plunged into the canal after skidding off from the road, Lonia told reporters.
I along with my brother jumped into the canal water and saved two persons,' she said.
District collector Ravindra Kumar Choudhary said Lonia and her family members saved seven passengers, including women.
Choudhary said, Shivrani Lonia, her brother Lavkush and three others rescued seven persons from the ill-fated bus just after the accident. However, one of the survivors died during treatment.' 'All the persons who rescued the passengers belonged to one family and they were aged between 16 and 22 years,' the collector said.
Choudhary said they took these passengers out of water after jumping into the canal though they are not professional swimmers, but knew swimming.
He praised the Lonia family members for their act of bravery.
At the time of the accident, he said, the water level in the canal was about 25 feet.
Meanwhile, several people, including Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, praised Shivrani Lonias bravery.
I salute the courage shown by daughter Shivrani. Not caring for her life, this daughter saved the lives of two passengers by jumping into the canal in Sidhi. I thank the daughter. The entire state is proud of you,' the CM said in Bhopal.
A senior official said the accident took place near Patna village, around 80km from the Sidhi district headquarters, when the ill-fated bus was on its way to Satna from Sidhi.
Sources said the ill-fated bus took the new route via Patna village after diverting from its regular route passing through the Chhuhiya Ghati.
There was a heavy traffic jam at the Chhuhiya Ghati, which falls between Sidhi and Govindgarh town on way to Satna, leading to the route change, the sources said. PTI COR ADU RSY RSY