MP bus accident: Three missing persons yet to be traced

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(Eds: With updates) Sidhi, Feb 18 (PTI) Efforts to trace three persons, who went missing after a bus plunged into a canal two days ago at Sidhi in Madhya Pradesh killing 51 people, failed to yield any result on Thursday, an official said.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and its state unit carried out the search operation during the day, the police official said.

An Army team from Jabalpur has also come and started a recce of the canal, into which the bus fell on Tuesday, superintendent of police Pankaj Kumawat told PTI.

'The NDRF and the State Disaster Response Force put in hard labour to trace the missing persons. Today's search operation drew to a close at sunset,' he said, adding that efforts to trace them will resume on Friday morning.

An over three-km-long tunnel in the canal, where oxygen supply is low, is going to be searched for the missing persons, Sidhi Collector Ravindra Kumar Choudhary said earlier in the day.

Asked how many people were there in the 32-seater bus when it met with the accident on Tuesday, the official said the vehicle was carrying 61 people, including the driver.

Fifty one bodies have so far been recovered and seven people, including the driver, have been rescued.

The bus driver was arrested on Wednesday, the official said.

He said the bus was overcrowded as more than 40 passengers were going to neighbouring Satna to appear for some exams.

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

The bus had diverted from its permitted route to avoid traffic jams, officials said.

On Wednesday, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan met families of the victims and comforted them.

On Thursday, a day after suspending four officials in connection with the bus accident, the chief minister said that those responsible for the tragedy will be punished. PTI LAL GK NP NP