Bus tragedy in MP: Four officials suspended

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Bhopal, Feb 17 (PTI) Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Wednesday night suspended the Regional Transport Officer (RTO) of Sidhi district and three officials of the MP Road Development Corporation (MPRDC) after 51 persons lost their lives in a bus accident.

'I am suspending MPRDC's divisional manager, AGM and manager,' Chouhan told reporters at Sidhi on Wednesday night.

'Sixty-two passengers were traveling in a 32-seater bus. Who was responsible for this? So the concerned RTO is also being suspended. Action will be taken against others who are responsible for the incident too,' he added.

The accident took place on Tuesday morning near Patna village, 80 km from the Sidhi district headquarters, when a bus heading from Sidhi to Satna fell into a canal which is part of the Bansagar dam project.

The death toll went up to 51 with the recovery of four more bodies on Wednesday.

Chouhan met bereaved families of victims during the day and offered condolences besides handing over cheques of financial assistance of Rs seven lakh.

He reached Rampur Naikin at around 2 pm and met the family members of Atharv Gupta and Vimala Dwivedi who lost their lives in the accident. He also visited Churhat, Pachokhar, Padariya, Kukdijhar, Budhraha and some other villages to meet the kin of the deceased.

Sources said the 38-seater bus -- 32-seater by some accounts -- had diverted from its permitted route to avoid traffic jams and bad roads.

Meanwhile, bus driver Balendu Vishwakarma, who has been detained, claimed while speaking to reporters that he heard a strange sound before the bus plunged into the water.

'The bus left at 5.30 am from Sidhi and reached the accident site at around 7.30 am. I heard a sound before it skidded into the canal,' he said.

He was apprehended on Wednesday morning from adjoining Satna district.

Asked about the number of passengers inside, he said he didn't count, but the number should be around 55.

The bus was 32-seater, he said.

He was rescuedby some people and reached Satna after walking some distance and taking another bus, he said. PTI ADU KRK KRK