The bodies of eleven victims of the bus accident at Thazhathangadi were handed over to the next of kin after completing legal and medical formalities even as the divers called off their search at Meenachil river by evening.

Inquest and post-mortem of ten persons who died in the accident were conducted at Kottayam Government Medical College while the legal formalities on the eleventh victim, whose identity was known only in the afternoon, was conducted at Kottayam District Hospital. The last victim has been identified as Sasidharan (56) son of Kunjachan of Chirattakkeri Manavelikkari House, Edayazhom near Vaikom. The inquest procedures commenced by 7 am under the leadership of Inspector General of Police, B Sandhya.

According to Medical college authorities, nine persons who were injured in the accident are now at the various wards at Kottayam Government Medical College Hospital as in-patients.

The bodies which have been identified by the relatives earlier are Babu Damodaran (45) Thaiprambil House, Thalavady, Alappuzha; Kochumon (45) Kurisummoottil House, Kumarakom (conductor of the bus), Divya Prasanna (19) Thazhavana House, Moolavattom; Siby (30) Ennakumbil House, Ullala, Vaikom; Beena (40) of Kochuveettil House, Paadathara, Kummanam, her daughter Amala (15) , Vishnu Viswas (18), Viswa Bhavan, Udayanapuram, Vaikom; Ancy (21) Chinnar Estate, Elappara; Thomas (45) Palayckal House, Uzhavoor and Satheesh (45) Valayil House, Kummanom who collapsed while engaged in rescue work.

According to district authorities, the decision to call off search was made after the divers muddied the bottom of the river at the accident site using propellers to ascertain whether victims were caught in the muddy depths of the river. The experiment produced no results. The search was called off after 26 hours. In addition to divers from Indian Navy a team from the private agency Inter Dive also participated in the search operations.

The initial financial assistance declared by the government was disbursed by the revenue authorities in the morning. The financial assistance for the injured who have been discharged, will be disbursed on Thursday, authorities said. Meanwhile, Ministers T. M. Thomas Isaac, M. A. Baby and Benoy Viswom visited the injured in the hospital and the victims’ houses. Joe K Mani and Anto Antony (both MPs) and local MLA V. N. Vasavan were present at the hospital.

Driver Arrested

Meanwhile, the driver of the ill-fated KL 05 X 3355 which plunged into Meenachil river on Tuesday, Radhakrishnan, has been arrested by Kottayam (West) police. Now in custody, he will be produced before Kottayam first Class Magistrate court on Thursday. The bus belongs to Parambil Travels.

Mr. Radhakrishnan who had a miraculous escape from the bus had gone to Vaikom from the accident spot and was admitted to a hospital there. Later, he was brought back to Kottayam Government Medical College Hospital. He said that the steering system of the bus had developed technical snags resulting in the accident.

Inspection

However, the inspection by technical experts led by Regional Transport Officer (RTO) K. A. George found no technical snags for the bus, which was brought to the Kottayam (West ) police station on Wednesday morning. According to their preliminary report, both the brakes and the steering systems were functioning properly. They found that the vehicle was moving on the third gear when the accident occurred and as such the allegations of over-speeding will not stand.

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