Mumbai: A bus, on its way to a hill station, fell into a gorge in Raigad district of Maharashtra this afternoon killing 33 passengers, senior officials said.
After the unfortunate accident, Prakash Sawant Desai, the lone survivor who managed to jump out of the bus, climbed up the slope, took the phone of a passerby and made calls to another staff member from the university and police.
"The bus was carrying 34 staff members of an agriculture university in the Konkan region. It fell into a 500-feet deep gorge at Ambenali Ghat near Poladpur town, some 180 km from Mumbai at around 12:30 pm today", District Collector Vijay Suryawanshi told PTI.
A police officer said the employees of Dr Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth were headed to Mahabaleshwar for a weekend picnic.
A team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been called to the spot to pull out the bodies from the ill-fated bus. A dozen ambulances and 15 doctors have also reached the spot, Additional SP Sanjay Patil said.
State minister Vinod Tawde tweeted he has asked officials to go to the accident site and start rescue operations immediately.
The stretch of the highway in the Western Ghats where the accident happened had been receiving heavy rain for the past few days. Police said the slippery mountain terrain where the accident took place made the road a danger.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that they are pained by the loss of lives in the bus accident.
In a message posted on Twitter, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said he has asked party workers in the area to provide "all possible assistance to the injured and families of those who have died".
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