Baharampur, Murshidabad: A bus packed with around 50 riders crashed through a bridge and plunged into a canal in West Bengal's Murshidabad on Monday morning killing at least 36 people.
As local people raced to the rescue, an angry crowd hit out at the police, accusing them of arriving late. Facing a stone-throwing mob, the police used tear gas shells and batons.
Around 6 am, the bus, from Nadia, was reportedly travelling at a high speed when the driver lost control while swerving to avoid another vehicle on the bridge in Daulatabad, about 220 km from Kolkata.
Four or five survivors pulled out of the canal said the driver was talking on the phone when he lost control of the bus.
The bus broke through the railing of the bridge, which was said to be old and dilapidated, and fell into the canal. It took eight hours to locate and lift the bus out of the canal using five hydraulic cranes, news agency PTI reported.
Some of the passengers swam to safety, said witnesses.
Locals rushed with small boats to rescue whoever they could. By the time the police arrived with cranes, a huge crowd had gathered. The crowd threw stones at the policemen, overturned police vehicles and even set two on fire. Fire engines were also targeted with stones.
Police had to use teargas to disperse the angry mobs. People complained that there were no divers to help with the rescue.
A huge police force is now at the spot, trying to lift the bus from the canal with cranes. The rescue was tough, said the administration, because the canal was too deep.
Condoling the deaths, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced Rs 5 lakh compensation for the family of those killed in the incident. Ms Banerjee, who visited the accident site, said, "The bus driver might have been unmindful. There was fog also."