1 killed, 40 students injured as tourist bus plunges into gorge in Kerala

A student of the regional industrial training institute in Tirur in Kerala’s Malappuram district died and over 40 injured when a tourist bus in which they were travelling met with an accident in the early hours of Sunday at Adimali in Idukki district, police said.

Police said the accident occurred after the bus lost control after slipping away from the road due to heavy fog and fell into a 60-feet deep gorge. They said timely intervention of local people and fire force personnel saved many lives. Among the injured, the condition of 10 students was serious, doctors said. Students were heading back to their home after a three-day excursion to Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu and Munnar in Idukki when the mishap occurred.

Rescue officials said they were told about the missing student when all the injured were rushed to the hospital and they rushed back to the accident site and recovered the body of the missing student, M Milhaj. When the bus turned turtle he was trapped under the vehicle and his body was recovered only in the morning. “The government will ensure proper treatment to all injured students,” said state irrigation minister Roshy Augustine after meeting the injured. The students with serious injuries were later shifted to the Kottayam medical college hospital.

Initial reports suggested that the bus slipped from the road while negotiating a hairpin curve and fell into the gorge. Drivers of some of the passing vehicles immediately alerted local people and police and rescue operation was started immediately braving thick fog and pitched darkness.

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The motor vehicles department said the ill-fated bus had flouted the ban on night driving. After the Palakkad mishap in October, in which nine school students died, the government had banned night travel of school excursion teams. In the hill station Munnar and surrounding areas, temperature dipped below 1 degree Celsius on the New Year eve.

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