Kottayam: Seven passengers, including two women and a child, drowned when private bus with about 40 persons on board plunged into a deep river in Kottayam on Tuesday.
A local man collapsed and died on the spot while being engaged in the rescue work.
While 20 persons swam to safety and are undergoing treatment in hospitals, the rescuers, including Naval divers from Kochi, were still searching in the Mennachal river at Thazhathangadi to ascertain if more bodies are trapped in the slush, police said.
The bus, portion of which got stuck in the muddy river-bed, was lifted out after five hours of hard toil using six cranes, but no body was found trapped inside the vehicle, as feared initially.
The bus was coming from Cherthala in Alappuzha District to Kottayam along the rural route when it fell into the river after hitting an electric post.
Some of the survivors said the bus had about 35 to 40 persons when the mishap occurred.
However, it was difficult to say exactly how many passengers were in the bus at the time of mishap as the conductor was among those who met with the watery grave.
Last year, a boat had capsized at Thekkady lake claiming 45 lives. In 2002, in Kumarakom, which is close by the spot of Tuesday's mishap, 29 people had died in a boat mishap.
Story first published:
March 23, 2010 15:51 IST