PANAJI, Feb 18 (IANS): At least six school children and their woman escort were drowned Saturday after a school bus carrying them drove straight into a river in Goa, police said.
The accident took place when the brakes of the bus failed and it plunged into Calvi river, 30 km from Panaji.
Seven bodies - six of students and one of a woman - have been recovered from the river, police officials said, adding the wreck of the bus had also been salvaged.
Police said they did not have the exact number of children on board the bus. According to witnesses, there were around 20 children in the bus, which ran off the ferry ramp into the river.
"The driver jumped off somehow and ran away," said Agustino D'Souza, a witness.
Chief Minister Digambar Kamat has announced compensation for the families of the deceased. The government has also ordered a magisterial probe as well as cancelling all carnival parades scheduled for the next five days.
"All the carnival festivities which are to begin today have been cancelled. The government will also provide Rs.2 lakh ex-gratia for the families of those deceased," Kamat told reporters.
Kamat also admitted to a delay in rescue and salvaging operations because the required crane was not available near the site.