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Bus carrying varsity staff falls into gorge in Maha; 33 dead

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Press Trust of India Mumbai
Thirty-three staff members of an agriculture university in Maharashtra were killed when the bus they were travelling in skidded off the road and rolled down a deep gorge in Raigad district this afternoon, officials said.
The private bus was carrying 34 staff members of the university on a picnic. It fell into a 500-feet deep gorge at Ambenali Ghat near Poladpur town, around 180 km from here, District Collector Vijay Suryawanshi told PTI over the phone.
Thirty-three passengers died in the accident which took place at around 12.30 pm, he said.
SP Anil Paraskar said the passengers were on their way to Mahabaleshwar, a hill station in Satara district in Western Maharashtra, for a picnic, when the driver lost control over the vehicle while negotiating a turn and it fell into the gorge.
All the bus passengers were staff of the Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth at Dapoli in Raigad district, he said.
A team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was at the spot to pull out the bodies from the ill-fated bus.
A dozen ambulances and 15 doctors were at the scene, Additional SP Sanjay Patil said.
The lone survivor, Prakash Sawant, said mud and loose stones on that particular stretch of the ghat road caused the bus tyres to skid.
"The bus veered to the left and fell into the gorge before we could understand what was happening. Trees arrested the fall someway down. I had managed to jump out in time. I climbed my way up somehow," he said, recounting the tragedy.
When Sawant reached the road, he saw a crowd of people.
"One of them gave me a mobile phone. I called up the police control room and informed them," he said.
Originally, 40 people were supposed to join the trip to Mahabaleshwar, but some of them opted out at the last moment because the bus was small and there was no space, Sawant said.
Meanwhile, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, among other leaders, expressed grief over the tragedy.
Gandhi tweeted, "I'm sorry to hear about the terrible bus accident in Raigad, Maharashtra in which a large number of people have been killed. I appeal to Congress party workers in the area to provide all possible assistance to the injured and families of those who have died."

Fadnavis said he was pained to know about the loss of lives in the accident. "Administration taking all efforts to provide required assistance. Senior officials and emergency management systems in place," Fadnavis tweeted.
"My thoughts are with families who lost loved ones and prayers for speedy recovery of injured," the CM added.
State Congress chief Ashok Chavan said, "Extremely sad to hear about the accident of a bus near Poladprur in Raigad district carrying 33 employees of Konkan Agriculture University. My heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this horrifying accident."

Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde said the accident was very unfortunate.

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First Published: Jul 28 2018 | 8:30 PM IST

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