DEHRADUN: Twenty-six pilgrims were killed when a bus carrying 30 passengers including 28 pilgrims from Madhya Pradesh for the ongoing Char Dham Yatra fell into a 150 meters deep gorge in Uttarakashi district of Uttarakhand on Sunday.
Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan also reached Dehradun and met the family members of the deceased along with Uttarakhand CM Dhami. Chouhan also announced Rs 5 lakhs each for the families of the deceased.
“My condolences to the bereaved families. Teams from SDRF, NDRF, state police and administration have already been deployed. District officials are on the spot already. The injured have been transported to the hospitals nearby and four have been referred to Dehradun. I have spoken to the MP CM and Union home minister, who has assured every help needed,” said Pushkar Singh Dhami, Chief Minister, Uttarakhand.
All the 28 pilgrims are residents of the Panna district in Madhya Pradesh. The search and rescue operations went on till 2.30 am on Monday morning after which 26 bodies were recovered.
Initial reports suggest that the bus driver lost control of the vehicle on Yamunotri Highway following which the bus tumbled down the gorge.
The pilgrims received several injuries including injuries to the head, dislocated shoulders, multiple fractures, broken ribs and ligaments leaving them bruised and battered all over their bodies.
The bus left for a tour of religious places from Panna district of MP on May 20 reaching Haridwar on June 2 covering various pilgrimage shrines in India and Nepal including Maihar Devi, Varanasi, Allahabad, Sitamarhi and Gorakhpur before finally reaching Haridwar.
Kesh Bihari Awasthi, the tour guide of the pilgrimage group who was travelling in another vehicle said, “We had to wait for two days in Haridwar until our registration for the Char Dham was confirmed. We started today from Haridwar and never imagined such a tragedy would befall us.”
The officials from the state government said that the death toll can go up as search and rescue operations are going on.
Ashok Kumar, Director General of Police, Uttarakhand told The New Indian, “The bus was carrying pilgrims from Panna district in Madhya Pradesh fell into 500 meters gorge in Rikhaun Khadd, a spot between Damta and Naugaon villages in Uttarkashi district at around 7 pm.”
Meanwhile, CM Dhami visited the disaster management control room in the state secretariat to monitor the situation.