At least 24 people were killed and eight were gravely injured when a bus plunged into a deep gorge in Uttarakhand late on Tuesday. The bus, which was carrying pilgrims from Madhya Pradesh, was returning from the Gangotri shrine when the incident happened. The accident occurred near Nalupani in Uttarkashi district.
Three people are still missing, and the eight were rushed to the Community Health Centre at Chinyalisaud, an official told IANS.
Reports state that some passengers of the bus also fell in the Bhagirathi river, which was flowing below the cliff. District officials, including district magistrate Ashish Srivastava, and rescue services rushed to the spot immediately. However, rescue efforts were hampered as the incident occurred at night.
Rescue efforts were further delayed because the hills are very steep, and the operation went on till Wednesday morning. SDRF, police and ITBP teams went down to the incident spot from the other side and rescued at least eight passengers. The bodies of the deceased have been recovered, but they are yet to be identified.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences. Prime Minister's National Relief Fund announced ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of those who died in the incident, and Rs 50,000 each for the seriously injured.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat also expressed sadness at the loss of lives in the accident and announced an ex gratia of Rs 1 lakh each for the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each for those injured.
State officials were also asked to identify danger zones on routes of the Chaar Dham Yatra, and put up cautionary security measures, including installing speed monitors, turning warnings and crash barriers.