37 killed as truck falls into Himachal gorge (Night Lead)August 19th, 2010 - 12:20 am ICT by IANS
Shimla, Aug 18 (IANS) At least 37 people, including 21 women and seven children, were killed and an equal number were injured in Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi district when an overcrowded truck skidded off the road and fell into a 200-foot deep gorge Wednesday, police said.
The victims, mostly from Sudhani village, were on their way home after attending a ceremony when their truck fell into a gorge near Guru Kotha village in Balh Valley at around 5 p.m., some 30 km from Mandi town, Assistant Superintendent of Police Hera Singh Thakur told IANS.
He said most of the victims belonged to closely-knit families of the district. The injured were admitted to the Zonal Hospital in Mandi and Civil Hospital in Sundernagar.
Witnesses told police that the truck was overcrowded and the driver probably lost control over the vehicle while negotiating a turn. They said the driver was heavily drunk.
Ramesh Kumar, an injured passenger, said rescuers had a tough time in extracting the victims from the truck.
The truck was turned into a double-decker by fitting wooden slats so that more passengers could be accommodated. A truck, used for transporting goods, is prohibited from carrying people.
But such vehicles carrying a large number of passengers are a common sight in the state, especially during religious occasions.
Governor Urmila Singh, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh, who belongs to the Mandi parliamentary constituency, expressed grief over the accident.
Dhumal said compensation would be given to the next of kin of the dead as per government rules.
The accident spot is some 175 km from state capital Shimla.
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Tags: assistant superintendent, chief minister, deep gorge, government rules, grief, guru, himachal pradesh, mandi district, parliamentary constituency, prem kumar, ramesh kumar, religious occasions, rescuers, thakur, transporting goods, urmila, virbhadra singh, wooden slats