Vehicle was negotiating a curve en route to Ponmudi

Several persons, including women and children, were injured, some seriously, after a mini-bus carrying around 35 persons from a church in Miyannur of Kollam fell about 50 ft into a gorge en route to the hill station of Ponmudi here on Saturday.

Suresh Kumar, Sub Inspector, Ponmudi, said the accident occurred around 9 a.m., when the driver lost control of the vehicle while trying to negotiate the 21st hairpin curve, which is the second of 22 such curves from the bottom of the hill, causing the vehicle to roll back and hurtle over the roadside into the gorge. Trees at about 50 ft down broke the fall, by which time the bus, carrying participants of a vacation Bible school conducted by the Assemblies of God Church, Miyannur, had somersaulted around four times.

The driver, who failed to manoeuvre the bus round the curve, reversed the vehicle a little and was trying to take it forward when he lost control. The helper of the bus, who had got down, had placed stones behind the rear wheels but those turned inadequate as the bus rolled back over them and continued to plunge into the gorge, the police said.

Local residents, who were standing near Merchiston Junction a little below, rushed to the help of the passengers, and managed to take them out of the mangled bus and rush them to hospital in various vehicles, including other tourist vehicles that came by. Some of the patients sought first aid from the local government hospital at Vithura while the rest, including seven who sustained serious injuries, were taken to the Government Medical College Hospital (MCH), Thiruvananthapuram. Three children, who were first taken to the SAT Hospital here, were later shifted to the MCH, police said.

While most of those brought to the MCH were discharged after being administered treatment, 16 were admitted here. The condition of those seriously injured was stated to be stable, Mr. Suresh Kumar said.

The Ponmudi police have registered a case.