56 people, including many schoolchildren, injured; driver is absconding

Five persons were killed on the spot when a private bus, with at least 60 passengers, fell off a small bridge across a canal after crashing through the parapet at Sathanur village on Mandya–Keregodu main road.

Fifty-six people, including many schoolchildren, sustained injuries.

Police and Regional Transport Office officials said the bus was on its way to Mandya from Dyapasandra, near Keregodu, when the accident occurred at Sathanur village, nearly 7 km from here, at about 12.30 p.m.

Officials said the bus driver was trying to overtake a vehicle when he noticed another bus coming in the opposite direction. When he applied brakes, the bus swerved to the right and crashed through the parapet of the bridge. While the front portion of the bus landed in the canal, its rear was precariously perched on the bridge. There was not much water in the canal.

The police said the driver and his assistant fled from the spot.

There were at least 60 passengers in the bus when the accident occurred. They had boarded the bus at Dyapasandra, Keregodu, K. Gowdagere, S.I. Kodihalli, Hulivana and Kommerahalli.The police identified the dead as Shivanna Shivalingaiah (62) of S.I. Kodihalli, Lokesh alias Yogesh Siddaiah (34) and Siddappa Pushpagiri Boraiah (27) of Hulivana, and Lakshmi Boraiah (35) and Mache Gowda (56) of K. Gowdagere.

Among the injured, Shravya (24) of Dugganahalli and a one-year-old boy have been taken to a Mysore hospital and Janakamma (40) of K. Gowdagere and Rani (33) of Dyapasandra have been taken to Bangalore. The other injured are being treated in the Mandya Institute of Medical Sciences hospital, the police said. The condition of many of the injured was said to be serious.

Some of the injured passengers told presspersons at the MIMS hospital that the bus was in poor condition and it was overcrowded. They alleged that the bus was being driven negligently and that the driver was inebriated.

The police said they would book a criminal case against the bus owner and the driver. They said they would look into the charge that the driver was inebriated.

Vehicular movement on the Mandya–Keregodu main road was affected for nearly three hours following the accident. The police used two hydraulic cranes to lift the bus.

Officials including Mandya Deputy Commissioner B.N. Krishnaiah, Superintendent of Police Bhushan Gulabrao Borase, Additional Superintendent of Police M. Puttamadiah, Mandya Fire Station Officer G. Manjunath, Deputy Superintendent of Police V.J. Shobharani oversaw the rescue and relief operations.

Public Works Minister H.C. Mahadevappa and district administration officials visited the injured at the MIMS hospital.

The district administration has convened a meeting of private bus operators here on Sunday.

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