Schoolchildren among 50 injured as overcrowded bus overturns in Haryana's Panchkula

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Chandigarh, Jul 8 (PTI) An overcrowded Haryana Roadways mini bus, mostly carrying schoolchildren, overturned near Pinjore in Panchkula district on Monday, injuring 50 passengers, officials said.

However, most of the passengers escaped with minor injuries and were discharged from the hospital in the evening, they said, adding only nine people are admitted now in the hospital.

The incident took place in the morning when the bus veered off the road near a turn while passing through a hilly patch near Pinjore, a police official said.

Panchkula Deputy Commissioner Yash Garg told PTI that after the accident about 50 passengers, most of them children, were brought to hospitals in Panchkula and Pinjore.

Most of the passengers escaped with minor injuries, he said, adding that during the screening, it was found that most of the children were in a state of shock.

"Only nine are admitted now in the Panchkula civil hospital. Of them, three-four are adults and the rest are children. No one is hospitalised in Pinjore now," Garg said.

Meanwhile, Haryana's Minister of State for Transport, Aseem Goel, visited the hospital in Panchkula in the evening and enquired about the health of the injured.

Goel later told reporters that the bus driver was on the run.

He said a five-member inquiry committee has been formed under the chairmanship of additional director (transport) for a probe into the incident. "The inquiry panel will give its report within a week." Replying to a question, Goel said, it was a 32-seater bus.

Deputy Commissioner Garg said two-three children have suffered fractures.

An elderly woman suffered serious injuries and had been referred to PGIMER at Chandigarh, he said, adding another injured person had been shifted to ICU.

Some accounts said the woman was on the road when the accident occurred.

The conductor of the bus was among the injured.

Earlier in the day, Haryana Assembly Speaker Gian Chand Gupta, who is BJP MLA from Panchkula, told reporters at the Panchkula Civil Hospital, that the driver and conductor of the bus have been suspended.

"The bus was overloaded and we have been told that the vehicle's speed was slightly in excess. As it approached a turn, it overturned," Gupta said.

"Our first priority was to rescue and give best treatment to the injured," he added.

Gupta said from Tuesday an additional bus will ply on the route for the convenience of the public.

When asked if the mini bus was packed beyond capacity, Deputy Commissioner Garg said preliminary reports suggest that more people were travelling on it against its capacity.

"Some children have said the speed of the bus was slightly in excess...a detailed probe is being conducted into the cause of the accident," he said.

Earlier, speaking to reporters at the Panchkula Civil Hospital, Garg said, "The reasons behind the accident are under investigation. Our main focus at the moment was on rescue. The matter of relief is that all children are stable, no one has a threatening injury or critical injury." A passenger on the bus, Jaipal, told reporters in Panchkula that the bus was overcrowded. "Suddenly, the bus started shaking near a turn and overturned," Jaipal said. PTI SUN KVK KVK