Groom and his father among the victims; relatives were on way to bride's place

Twenty-eight people were killed and 10 injured when a bus carrying a marriage party plunged into a pond while crossing a wooden bridge at Charabari near Hajo in Kamrup district on Monday night.

The victims included the groom, Naba Kumar Sarma, and 13 of his close relatives including his father. Six minors including a four-year-old were among those dead.

Kamrup Deputy Commissioner S.K. Roy told The Hindu that the locals retrieved 24 bodies while rescue teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) found four. The injured, including the driver, were rushed to the Nalbari Civil hospital.

The accident occurred at Charabari, about 35 km from here along the Hajo-Nalbari road around 11 p.m. The bus was proceeding from Lakhara here to the bride's place at Tihu, when it hit the railings of the bridge and plunged into the pond covered with water hyacinth. Police later fished out the vehicle using a crane.

Ex gratia

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi announced an ex gratia of Rs. 1 lakh to the next of kin of each deceased and Rs. 50,000 to the injured. He ordered a probe into the accident and issued a directive to the Public Works Department (PWD) to convert all wooden bridges into RCC ones. Locals alleged that the PWD ignored their repeated pleas for an RCC bridge, the PWD had turned a deaf ear. Thousands of people, who had gathered at the accident site, were moved to tears on seeing the bodies.

Oil tanker turns turtle

In another incident, five persons were killed and at least 20 injured when an oil tanker turned turtle and caught fire at Badulipar near Bokakhat in Golaghat district early on Tuesday.

The tanker was proceeding to Guwahati on National Highway 37. Five persons were charred to death while 20 who had gathered near the accident site sustained serious burns. Police rushed the injured to hospital.

Vehicular movement on the national highway was blocked for some time. Traffic was restored around 11 a.m. after six fire tenders doused the flames.