At least 24 people were killed after a bus carrying pilgrims fell into a gorge near Damta on the Yamunotri National Highway in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi district on Sunday, police said.
The bus had around 30 pilgrims from Panna district of Madhya Pradesh and a driver. The accident took place between Damta and Barnigad, which is around 70 km from Yamunotri Dham at around 7.15 p.m., after the driver allegedly fell asleep at the wheel. It was said that this was his third trip without a rest.
So far the bodies of 24 pilgrims have been retrieved while six others injured are undergoing treatment at Damta Primary Health Centre for first aid.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed grief over the accident. He said, "The bus accident in Uttarakhand is extremely painful. I express my condolences to those who have lost their loved ones. The local administration under the supervision of the state government is doing all possible help..."
The Prime Minister has also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each from PMNRF for the next of kin of those who lost their lives in the accident in Uttarakhand. The injured would be given Rs 50,000 each.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has also expressed his grief at the loss of lives in the accident and spoken to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.
"It is very sad to hear about the bus of devotees falling into the gorge in Uttarakhand. I have spoken to the chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami. Local administration and SDRF teams are engaged in rescue work and the injured are being taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. NDRF is also reaching there soon," the Union Home Minister tweeted.
"The death of pilgrims, from Panna district, after their bus fell into a gorge in Uttarakhand, is unfortunate. Our team is in constant touch with the Uttarakhand government. Arrangements are being made for the treatment of the injured and to bring back the bodies," tweeted Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand Chief Minister has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the accident.
Dhami reached the disaster control room at Secretariat to take stock of the relief and rescue operations. Expressing grief over the accident, the Chief Minister has directed the district administration to carry out relief and rescue work expeditiously. He also instructed officials to make arrangements for proper treatment of the injured.
It was learnt that SDM, Badkot tehsildar, SDRF, police and ambulance have been deployed to the spot.
The Uttarakhand Transport Department has announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh each to the dead and Rs 40,000 to the seriously injured.