13 dead, 29 injured after bus falls into gorge on old Mumbai-Pune highway

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Police and rescue officials inspect the wreckage of a passenger bus near Khopoli, some 70 kilometres (43 miles) from Mumbai | AP

Mumbai: Thirteen persons, including at least five minors, were killed and 29 others injured after a bus carrying young male and female members of a traditional music troupe fell into a gorge on the old Mumbai-Pune highway in Raigad district of Maharashtra early on Saturday, police said.

The private bus was going from Pune to Mumbai when it plunged into the gorge near Shingroba temple located in the 'ghat' (mountain pass) section on the highway around 4.50 am, a senior police official said.

As per the information available so far, the deceased included at least five minors, including a six-year-old boy and a girl aged 15, while of the total number of injured, at least six are minors.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde expressed grief over the accident and announced an ex-gratia of Rs five lakh to the kin of each deceased. Shinde said the condition of five of the injured is critical. The CM paid a visit to the accident site after visiting a hospital in Navi Mumbai, where most of the injured were admitted.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah expressed sorrow and spoke to CM Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis about it.

The accident occurred in Khopoli police station limits.

"The bus was carrying 42 members of 'Baji Prabhu Vaadak Group' from Mumbai's Goregaon. They were returning to Goregaon after taking part in an event in Pimpri Chinchwad area in Pune district. The bus had left the venue around 1 am on Saturday," the police official said, adding that 13 of them died in the incident, which left 29 others injured.

On learning about the incident, a team of local police, members of a trekking group and personnel of IRB company rushed to the spot and launched a rescue operation, the police said.

The injured were admitted to three different hospitals - the MGM Hospital in Navi Mumbai, a government hospital in Khopoli and a private facility there, they said.

Most of the deceased and the injured were from Goregaon and Sion in Mumbai and Virar in neighbouring Palghar district, Raigad Superintendent of Police (SP) Somnath Gharge said.

Most of the passengers were in their twenties, the police said.

Khopoli town is located around 70 km from Mumbai.

In a tweet in Hindi, Union minister Shah said, "The road accident in Raigad, Maharashtra is very sad. Talked to Chief Minister @mieknathshinde and Deputy Chief Minister @Dev_Fadnavis in this regard. The local administration is engaged in relief work. I express my condolences to the families of the deceased and wish the injured a speedy recovery."

CM Shinde visited the Mahatma Gandhi Mission (MGM) Hospital in Navi Mumbai to enquire about the health of the injured.

"Of the total injured persons, the condition of five is critical. I have instructed the doctors to provide the best possible treatment to save their lives," he said.

After that, he also visited the accident site.

Earlier in the day, the CM spoke to Raigad district collector and SP and took stock of the situation and directed the authorities to ensure that the injured persons get proper treatment, the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said. The chief minister also spoke to the members of the hiking group and the personnel of the IRB company involved in the rescue operation and praised their efforts, it said. PTI

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