Six drowned in Goa as school bus falls into river (Second Lead)

February 18th, 2012 - 9:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Feb 18 (IANS) At least six people, including four school children and two women escorting them, were drowned Saturday after their bus fell into a river in Goa, police said. Bodies of four victims were recovered and the bus driver was arrested.

Police said the bodies of four people, including three students of St. Thomas Girls High School, Aldona, were fished out of the Calvi river, 30 km from here.

The bodies were identified as Priyal Salgaonkar, 10, Diana Dias, 8, Elvina Dias, 11, and Josephine Dias, 58.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Ravinder Yadav said police and naval divers were still searching for the two missing people - Nigella Gracias, 11, and Dayanand Hoble, 55. Earlier, conflicting figures were given by police over the number of victims.

“The search operation has been suspended after sunset and will resume Sunday,” he said.

“Driver Rajesh Naik was initially absconding. After he was arrested, he said that there were six persons on board,” Yadav said.

Police said the driver claimed that the accident occurred after the vehicle’s brakes failed and the vehicle rolled into the river off a ferry ramp.

Chief Minister Digambar Kamat announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs.2 lakh to the kin of the deceased and also announced the cancellation of carnival parades in Goa.

Minutes later, a government statement clarified that only the inaugural carnival parade at Panaji Saturday was cancelled, while the decision on allowing other parades in other towns of Goa would be taken later.

The Goa church has also condoled the deaths of students of the church-run institution.

“The church in Goa expresses its sadness for the tragedy that took place at Calvim, where a bus carrying passengers plunged into the river… we offer condolences to the bereft families and express solidarity with them in this moment of great loss,” said spokesperson for the church Fr. Francisco Caldeira.

Goa Governor K Sankaranarayanan has also expressed “shock and grief” over the deaths.

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