Four dead, 20 rescued from bus that fell into Kerala river

March 23rd, 2010 - 6:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Kottayam, March 23 (IANS) At least four people died when a private bus fell into the Meenachil river near this Kerala city Tuesday afternoon, eyewitnesses said. Twenty passengers were rescued by the locals but many were trapped inside the bus.
The dead include Kochumon, the conductor of the bus, Babu who hails from Thiruvananthapuram, and two unidentified people, locals said.

The ill-fated bus was going from Shertallai to Kottayam. The accident occurred three km before Kottayam when, according to a survivor, the bus hit an electric post and plunged into the river.

Eyewitnesses said the bus was carrying more than 40 passengers and most of them were students who had boarded it from the tourist destination of Kumarakom.

Police and fire brigade personnel reached the accident spot but the bus continues to be submerged in water even two hours after the accident.

Three cranes were engaged in lifting the bus out of water but rescue work was difficult as locals said the bus fell into the river where water is more than 30 feet deep.

A navy helicopter from Kochi arrived at the spot.

Jyothilekshmi, a college student who was saved, said: “The bus suddenly hit a post and fell into the river. As soon as the bus fell into the water, it sank and some of us somehow came to the top of the bus and swam. We were picked up by locals.”

Local people, in large numbers, jumped into the river to save the passengers.

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