SHILLONG, June 20 - Accidents into one of the several deceptively benign-looking gorges along National Highway 44 is equivalent to a �plane crash,� with minimum chances of survival.
�It�s like a plane crash...a free fall. Once a vehicle plunges into one of these gorges the survival rate of the occupants is slim,� Superintendent of Police, East Jaintia Hills, Spill Thamar said.
Speaking about the 500 feet gorge, in which the Guwahati-bound bus plunged into at Sonapur on last Tuesday night, Thamar said he has never come across such a difficult gorge in his career.
�The incline is very steep and the vegetation is also thick. The area is part of the Narpuh forest reserve. Moreover, heavy rainfall has loosened the soil and made rescue work extremely difficult,� Thamar, who oversaw the operations, said.
Thamar added, rescue workers used metal cutters and lifted parts of the mangled bus to pull out the bodies. �We used all means to get out the bodies as quickly as possible,� he said.
Giving further details of the �extremely difficult� rescue operations, Thamar said, bodies were carried down the gorge through dense vegetation after trekking 20-25 minutes to reach the Lukha river bed.
Since the river is in spate due to heavy rain, country boats took close to two hours to reach Borsora village downstream. From the village, trucks took another couple of hours to ferry the bodies to the Community Health Centre at Khliehriat.
�All the rescue workers worked relentlessly and they deserve the highest praise for their efforts,� the SP said.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner of the district, WR Lyngdoh said, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has allotted the repair and widening of the highway to road construction company, GR Infra.
�The highway would be widened up to Sonapur Bridge. From beyond the bridge strengthening of the road would be undertaken,� Lyngdoh informed.
He said the responsibility of the maintenance work of the highway was on the State PWD until last year before it was handed over to NHAI.
�A proposal for sanction of fund for land compensation has been forwarded to the Union Government. We are waiting for a response from New Delhi,� Lyngdoh added.