PUNE: Eleven people including eight Nepalese workers were rescued in the nick of time before the bus in which they were traveling was swept away in a flooded river in Western Maharashtra’s Kolhapur district on early Friday morning, police said.
A case was registered against the driver of the private bus for recklessly taking it on a flooded bridge on the Chikodi river, they added.
The incident took place around 2.30 am at Pangire village in Bhudargad tehsil.
Of 11 people, eight are Nepalese who work in hotels in Goa and were on their way to Nashik from where they were to return to their country.
“The police patil (local police representative) of Pangire village Sandip Gurav, some local persons and home guard staff stopped the bus, asking the driver not to go ahead. But he did not pay heed and ventured onto the bridge,” said senior inspector Sanjay More of Bhudargad police station.
Even the passengers and his co-driver tried to dissuade the driver, but he drove on by removing a wooden log placed across the bridge as a barrier.
Once on the bridge, the bus skidded and landed in the river, said inspector More.
Some passengers then climbed on the roof and shouted for help.
“Police patil Gurav, other policemen, home guards, and local youngsters rushed to the spot, and by tying a rope to a truck parked near the bridge, rescued all 11 persons,” More said.
Moments after its occupants were rescued, the bus was swept away, he said.
Manbahadur Dangi, a Nepali national who was on board, said he was asleep when the bus landed in the water.
“I woke up and saw water gushing inside. We were very scared. The locals from the village rushed to our help and rescued us,” he told PTI.
“For a moment, I felt we would not survive and thought of calling my brother to tell him to look after my children and family,” Dangi said.
Nilesh Bharade, Nitin Bharade, Akshay Bharade, Santosh, Amol Chavan and Bhairavnath Chavan, all members of the local voluntary group Chhatrapati Pratishthan, played a crucial role in the rescue, police said.
Bus driver Ajit Pardeshi (39) was detained.
A case under IPC section 307 (attempt to murder) was filed against him for driving on the flooded bridge, police said.
In another incident in the wee hours of Friday, a Ratnagiri-bound bus of the Karnataka government’s transport service got stranded in water on Kolhapur-Panhala road.
As many as 25 passengers were safely evacuated, police said.