Steep hilly terrain mars rescue operations

Twenty-seven people were killed and 10 others injured when a Maharashtra State Transport bus plunged into a creek at Malshej Ghat near Thane district on Thursday. The police have arrested the driver of a speeding tempo, which, they said, collided with the bus while it was navigating a turn in the ghat section around 10 a.m. He has been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

“Since it’s a hilly terrain, the wireless system failed and an ambulance stationed along the highway was pressed into action. Rescue work is still on. Among the dead are 19 women,” said K. Rashmi, Superintendent of Police, State Highways.

Most of the bus passengers are from Thane, a satellite town of Mumbai. The bus was en route to Nashik from Thane.

“Prima facie its looks like the tempo driver was at fault. We haven’t found any evidence to ascertain that he was trying to overtake another vehicle before he collided with the bus. We are yet to ascertain the exact sequence of events,” Superintendent of Police, Thane Rural, Anil Kumbhare, told The Hindu.

The steep hilly terrain made the rescue operations difficult. The police had to climb downhill to reach the spot to rescue the survivors.

Of the 37 passengers, 13 were travelling to Aana village to attend a religious procession organised in the village. For the Ahire family from Thane, Thursday morning brought bad news. Eight of the family members died in the tragedy. The Maharashtra government has announced a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh for the family of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 for the injured.

The Maharashtra police has set up a helpline. The numbers are -02524222222 and 02524 222260.