A state transport (ST) bus that was winding its way towards Ahmednagar from Thane collided with a truck and plunged down a 400 ft deep precipice in Malshej Ghat yesterday, claiming the lives of 27 passengers and severely injuring 10 others.
The accident is known to have taken place between 9 and 9.30 am last morning, when the truck, which was carrying wood, crashed into the bus at a sharp turn on the Ghats. The bus driver lost control, causing the vehicle to go sliding down slope immediately.
Uttam Govind Chakre, highway traffic police officer, said that the tempo was on its way to Kalyan. “Prima facie it’s difficult to understand who was at fault. Our main aim was to rescue those who were still alive.”
Ropes, bed sheets as well as JCBs were used in the rescue operations. Vishal Chaudhari, another highway traffic cop, said that rescuing people on the mountainous terrain was a difficult task.
According to Highway traffic officials, the truck was on its way to Kalyan when it collided with the ST bus. As repair work is underway on the stretch, there were no barricades, and the bus immediately went down the slope. Pics/Sayed Sameer Abedi
“Since road work is underway, there were no barricades, and so, the bus immediately went down the slope. The truck driver Sarbajit Musai (54), who is an Ulhasnagar resident, has been arrested for negligent driving.” Of the 27 victims who lost their lives, 20 bodies were taken to a hospital in Otur for post-mortem. Seven others were taken to a hospital in Junnar. Among the 10 injured persons, seven were taken to Sonawane Hospital in Otur, one to Tokawade, one to Sainath Hospital in Mushi and one other to a hospital in Pune.
Rescue efforts continued up to 1 pm on Thursday afternoon. The bus had been broken into several parts. Locals who first reached the spot said that only those who were flung out of the vehicle were saved, while those who remained inside died on the spot. Srikant Kisam, a local, said, “It was a tough task to get the injured out, as they were in a semi-conscious state and were not in a condition to climb back onto the road themselves. We used ropes and tried to get them out.” Akash Bhoir, who works in a tea stall nearby and assisted in the rescue work, said, “My friend and I saw the ST bus turn turtle and rushed towards the spot. Dead bodies were lying everywhere, it was a terrible sight.”