CM announces Rs. one lakh ex-gratia to family of those killed

At least 40 people were feared drowned when a State-owned luxury bus plunged into the Bhakra canal, near the landmark Sirhind floating restaurant, along the national highway No.1 in the wee hours of Wednesday. Two bodies and a portion of the bus were recovered till reports last came in.

Though the SSP of Fatehgarh Sahib district, Gurmeet Singh Chauhan under whose jurisdiction the accident occurred did not confirm the toll, an official release through which the Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal expressed shock over the tragedy said that all the passengers in the ill-fated bus were feared dead.

The accident occurred when the Amritsar bound bus, crashed through the railing of the bridge and plunged into the canal at around 2 a.m. The bus was swept away for almost 3 km before it got stuck at Saundh headworks, which are downstream from the site of the accident. Reports said that at least 40 passengers boarded the bus at Delhi on Tuesday night.

The Chief Minister deputed Transport and Irrigation Ministers, Ajit Singh Kohar and Janmeja Singh Sekhon, to visit the accident site and supervise the rescue operations. Punjab government has sounded an alert along the Bhakhra mainline, Narwana canal and Sirhind feeder, to look for survivors and recover the bodies of the victims. Authorities feared the bodies could have been swept away for about 30 km. Services of the Army divers were requisitioned to assist the civil and police administration.

Mr. Badal while expressing grief over the tragedy, announced Rs. one lakh ex-gratia to the next of the kin of those killed in the accident and free medical treatment to the injured. Deputy Chief Minister, Sukhbir Singh and Revenue and Public Relations Minister, Bikram Singh Majithia, conveyed their condolences.