CHARABARI (HAJO), May 31 � A total of 29 bodies have been retrieved from the waterbody at Charabari into which the ill-fated bus (AS-25 A-1949) carrying a marriage party from Lokhra in Guwahati to Tihu in Nalbari district had plunged around 10-45 pm last night. At least 33 people were feared killed in the tragic accident. Ten persons of the marriage party managed to escape with the help of locals who had immediately rushed to the accident spot.
Some of the victims whose bodies were retrieved were identified as Naba Kumar Sarma (groom), his father Bipin Sarma, sister Jumi Devi, brother-in-law Gopal Sarma, nephew Hemanga Sarma, niece Darshana Devi, Dugdha Ram Sarma, Anima Devi, Manjit Sarma, Pampi Devi, Papu Sarma, Bhaswati Chaudhury, Sayanika Devi, Gitanjali Devi, Dhrubajyoti Sarma, Dhanjit Das and Kanak Ray.
The injured persons who have been undergoing treatment at Nalbari Swahid Mukunda Kakati Civil Hospital are Raju Baruah (20), Pranjal Kalita (20), Himangshu Das (24) Arup Roy (25), Himangshu Roy (24) Pankaj Sarma, Kuljit Kalita (28) Kuldip Sarma (32) Apurba Kalita (25) and Ritumani Das.
According to eye witness accounts the speeding vehicle hit the speed breaker just ahead of a wooden bridge and lost control. The bus then skidded off the bridge and plunged into the waterbody below. Renu Das of Charabari village whose home is situated on the south bank of the beel reportedly came out to the accident spot and helped five people swim to safety. �When I heard the sound of the bus I immediately rushed to the bridge and saw some people shouting for help in the water,� Renu Das stated. She added that she threw a long bamboo to the helpless people. Her hue and cry succeeded in drawing hundreds of people to the spot who managed to rescue ten people.
The locals alleged that they had immediately informed the Hajo police about the incident but they took an hour to reach the spot located only nine kilometres from the police station. The irate people pelted stones at the police party. On the other hand a joint police and army team from Nalbari district arrived at the spot around 11.30 pm. Two recovery vans were also brought to the spot but none started the rescue operation. Police and district administration were silent spectators the people alleged.
The irate locals were unhappy with the so called rescue efforts of the district administration which forced local youths Samin Haloi, Tagar Haloi, Achyut Das, Dipul Das, Dipak Das, Babul Ali, Meser Ali and Abdur Rahman to start rescue operation. They made a banana raft and managed to retrieve 24 bodies from inside the bus, said Samin Haloi. Tagar Haloi told this correspondent that they carried out the rescue operation from 2 am to 10 am today without drinking a drop of water. According to him the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team reached the spot for rescue operation eight hours after the accident.
Mukul Malli, a close friend of Naba Sarma said that Naba arranged his wedding ceremony at the Guwahati residence of his brother-in-law Gopal Sarma as his family was not agreeable to the marriage. He added that Naba was originally from Raipur area of Pathshala.
It may be mentioned here that yesterday�s accident was not the only accident in Charabari area. The gaonburah of Charabari village Akan Baishya said that in 2003 a boat had capsized in the beel where two persons including a young girl were drowned. On the other hand in 2000 another bus carrying a Bihu troupe from Guwahati had plunged into the waterbody. In that accident nine persons were killed. Again in 1986 a public bus named �Tridev� had fallen into a roadside ditch in the area killing 42 passengers on the spot. Similarly another bus �Mainajan� had fallen into a roadside ditch in the village in which 12 persons were killed.
The people of the village alleged that they have been demanding of the Chief Engineer, PWD to construct a RCC bridge replacing the wooden bridge but no action was taken.
Our Staff Reporter in Guwahati adds: The All Assam Students Union (AASU) on Tuesday expressed its grief over the tragic accident at Charabari on the Hajo-Nalbari road which led to the death of more than 37 people in a marriage party.
The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) too has extended its condolence and demanded necessary action in this regard from the government.