By Anil Giri
Kathmandu, April 22 (IANS) At least 17 Indian pilgrims were killed and 28 others injured on Wednesday morning when a bus carrying them plunged into a river while negotiating a sharp bend along a downhill section of the Prithvi Highway in Nepal, police said.
According to Superintendent of Police Narayan Singh Khadka, the accident took place at 6.40 a.m. when the bus carrying 45 Indian pilgrims from Gujarat skidded off the Prithvi Highway, rolled down 200 metres and plunged into Jhyapre river in Dhading district, some 50 km west of Kathmandu.
Members of the same pilgrim party, travelling in another bus that left Kathmandu for India at the same time, were safe, the officer said.
Khadka said 14 people died on the spot while three others succumbed in hospital.
The 45 Indian pilgrims aboard the bus were returning to Gorakhpur in India after visiting the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu.
The injured were taken to various hospitals in Kathmandu, including the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH), Vayodha Hospital, Shahid Memorial Hospital and Norvic Hospital.
Personnel of the army, police and armed police along with local residents carried out the rescue work at the accident site.
The Armed Police Force of Nepal said 14 of the 17 killed in the accident belonged to Surendranagar village in Gujarat.
Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae the various hospitals to meet the injured pilgrims, the embassy said in a statement.
“Latest position on bus accident on Wednesday — 17 dead, 27 injured, five critical and one missing. Our consular team is on the spot. We are sending injured to different hospitals for treatment,” the embassy said.
It further added that the bus, carrying 45 Indians, was an India-registered vehicle, operated by Shri Hari Tours & Travels of Gujarat state bearing registration number GJ14X9900.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the death of the 17 pilgrims in Nepal.
“Very sad news from Nepal. My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in the bus accident,” Modi said in a statement in New Delhi.
The Indian embassy said that another Indian bus bearing number plate GJ9-9888 with 37 passengers on board was safe.
The two tourist buses left Kathmandu at the same time heading towards India via Gorakhpur after the pilgrims had offered prayers at the famed Pashupati Nath Temple in Kathmandu.
The two buses, carrying a total of 90 pilgrims from Gujarat, reached Kathmandu on Tuesday evening.
The Indian embassy released the names of those killed in the bus accident. The victims were identified as:
1. Ganesh Shiva
2. Jasu Ben W/o Ganesh Shanker
3. Ganesh Shanker
4. Ishwar Shyamji
5. Kanchan Ben W/o Narottam Shiva
6. Labu Ben W/o Pragji Bhagwan
7. Dalpat Bhai
8. Savita Ben W/o Devji Bhai
9. Devji Bhai
10. Gauri Ben W/o Daya Ram
11. Daya Ram
12. Ganga Ram
13. Leela Ben W/o Narsi Poppat Bhai
14. Narsi Poppat Bhai
15. Alpesh Kodi Patel (helper)
16. Champa Ben, cook
17. Jasu Ben, cook
(Anil Giri can be contacted at email@example.com)