45 dead as bus with schoolchildren plunges into canal

April 16th, 2008 - 4:35 pm ICT by admin  

(Second Lead)

Ahmedabad, April 16 (IANS) Forty-four children, aged between eight and 10, were killed when a bus in which they were travelling fell into the Narmada main irrigation canal in Vadodara district early Wednesday. Their bodies as well as that of the conductor have been recovered, officials said. The accident occurred at around 6 a.m., 70 km from Vadodara, when the Gujarat state transport bus carrying about 50 students from Vag-Bhod village was on its way to Bodeli, according to Vadodara fire brigade officials.

The children were going to appear for an examination, which has now been cancelled by the district education officer. Five children survived the accident, four of whom managed to swim to safety. They have been admitted to Vadodara civil hospital.

Sources told IANS that soon after the accident locals recovered nine bodies. The other bodies were found with the help of fire brigade personnel. Many bodies had floated downstream, away from the accident site.

Authorities stopped the water flow in the Narmada canal, which was gushing 40,000 cusecs, to help the rescue operations.

Twenty-four of the dead children were from Navjivan school while 18 were students of Sirola school and two were enrolled in Maa Bhagwati school in Vag-Bhod.

The area is in the tribal belt of Vadodara district.

Sources in the chief minister’s office told IANS that Rs.100,000 compensation has been announced for the families of the children killed.

The district education officer has also announced compensation of Rs.50,000 under an insurance scheme initiated by the state government.

A committee set up by the education officer will probe the accident. Two ministers will visit the accident site later Wednesday.

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