HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KALIKOT: Twenty-eight persons were killed and 11 injured when a bus skidded off the Karnali Highway in Pakha VDC, Kalikot, and fell 300 metres onto the banks of the Tila River after the driver lost control while reversing it last night. The deceased include four women and two children.
Preliminary investigation reveals that the accident occurred as the officials of the concerned Karnali Bus Transportation Committee had entrusted a drunk mini-truck driver with driving the bus after the regular driver had gone to Nepalgunj for treatment.
Police said the transportation committee officials had told Bhimadutta Kunwar, a mini-truck driver, to drive the bus even after he informed them that he was drunk and had not slept the previous night. An accident survivor, Netra Bahadur Shahi, had overheard Kunwar disclosing this to the committee officials.
A transportation committee member, Hikmat Khadka, claimed Kunwar was entrusted with driving the bus, as he was a skilled driver.
DSP Homnath Niraula said police were questioning the transportation committee officials.
Chief District Officer Jagat Bahadur Basnet said action would be taken against the guilty following an investigation.
The ill-fated bus was en route to Jumla. The accident spot is 22 km from the district headquarters Manma. Police and army personnel, along with the locals, carried out the rescue operation. The injured were flown to the Nepalgunj-based Bheri hospital for treatment on the request of the Kalikot district hospital. Since no beds were vacant at Bheri hospital, the injured had to wait in the ambulance itself until some beds were made available. They are said to be out of danger.
Four persons jumped to their safety.
Since the opening of the highway about six years ago, more than 150 persons have lost their lives in 240 accidents on the highway.