Patna: Dozens of passengers were feared dead after a crowded bus fell into a flooded roadside pool in India’s Bihar state on Monday afternoon.
Chances of the passengers surviving in the accident were slim, officials said, as the bus was completely submerged in the pond and rescue operations were yet to start.
Reports said the crowded bus, with over 50 passengers on board, was on its way to Sitamarhi district, from Madhubani, when it plunged into the overflowing roadside pool.
The incident took place near Basaith village under Benipatti block in Madhubani district, some 200km north-east of the state capital Patna, after the driver lost control of the speeding bus, witnesses said.
The flooded pond is said to be some eight metres deep.
As the rescue teams reached the spot late, local villages jumped into the pond and launched their own rescue operation. At the time of going to print, at least 17 bodies had been retrieved while more remained trapped inside the bus.
Angry villagers pelted officials with stones and turned them away, hampering the rescue works for some time.
Some of the officials sustained injuries in the incident.
The villagers were angry at the way the local administration showed what they saw as lack of seriousness over the matter, by responding quite late.
According to the villagers, rescue teams reached the spot some three hours after the incident.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar expressed shock over the incident and asked ministers and other senior officials in the government to rush to the spot and speed up rescue operations.
“The incident is heart-rending,” the chief minister said while announcing to provide compensation to the victim families.