Special Correspondent

Bus falls into a 40-foot-deep waterbody

Around 75 to 80 people in the 60-seater busWater pumps used to rescue survivors

Guwahati: At least 51 members of a marriage party were killed and 29 others, including the bridegroom, injured when the bus in which they were travelling fell into a 40-feet-deep water body at Sarupeta in lower Assam's Barpeta district late on Wednesday night.

Official sources said 51 bodies, including that of eight children, were recovered until late Thursday afternoon, while the bridegroom and three others seriously injured were shifted to Guwahati Medical College Hospital. The accident occurred when the marriage party was en route from the bridegroom's place at Raha in Sarbhog to the bride's place at Goumurha under Sarupeta police outpost. The police said the bus overturned while it was trying to negotiate a culvert and fell into the water body, which was filled to the brim due to incessant rain for the past few days.

"It was around 11:30 p.m. when there was a screeching sound. Before we could realize what was happening, I found myself inside water and there was darkness everywhere. I immediately realised that the bus had fallen into a water body and managed to come out by breaking the windowpanes. There were about 75-80 members in the marriage party. A few have survived like me," Khitish Kalita, the bridegroom, said at the hospital.

The police used water pumps to pump out water and, thereby rescue the survivors and ascertain the exact death toll.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who was away in Delhi, conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family members and instructed the Barpeta Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police to ensure that the injured received good treatment. The State Government announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 1 lakh to the kin of the deceased, official sources said.

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