GUWAHATI, May 31 (IANS): A wedding celebration turned into a mourning in Assam when a bus carrying the groom and 42 more people plunged into a gorge after hitting a wooden bridge, officials said Tuesday. A total of 37 people have been feared killed, but six survived miraculously.
The accident occurred around 11 pm Monday near Charabari village in Kamrup district, about 30 km off Guwahati.
The bus was on its way from Guwahati to Tihu in Nalbari district.
"The marriage rituals at the bride's home in Tihu were to take place early Tuesday, and the bus was on its way with the groom when the accident took place," Police Officer A. Das said.
The dead included the groom and their relatives.
Rescue workers have so far managed to fish out 28 bodies and efforts are on to recover more bodies.
According to witnesses, the driver failed to notice the wooden bridge without any railings or signposts and the bus plunged into the deep gorge.
"Six people were rescued by locals and admitted to hospitals, while 28 bodies have been recovered so far," the police officer said.
Meanwhile, the Assam government has ordered an enquiry into the accident.
"We have already ordered an enquiry to find out why the wooden bridge had no railings or signposts alerting drivers about the bad condition of the bridge," Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said.
"Immediate steps are being taken to make a concrete bridge there. Besides, a statewide alert has been sounded to look for such vulnerable bridges that need urgent repair or attention," he added.
Gogoi also announced a compensation of Rs 1,00,000 each to the next of kin of those killed and Rs 50,000 each to the six injured.
Locals, however, accused the district and police authorities of failing to react promptly after the accident.
"The NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) was informed around 11 pm and they arrived at the accident site only around 7 am Tuesday, saying they don't have night vision equipment and hence came in the morning," local community leader Bhabesh Bora told IANS.