At least 21 pilgrims, belonging to Madhya Pradesh, were killed and seven others injured this evening when their bus plunged into the Bhagirathi river near Nalupani in Uttarakhand while returning from the Gangotri shrine.

The accident occurred at around 6 PM when the bus fell 300 metre down the road into the river, Dharasu police station incharge Ravindra Saha said. Thirteen bodies have been recovered so far while the rescue efforts are still on.

The bus was ferrying 'Chardham' pilgrims from Gangotri in the Himalayas to Haridwar from where they had to go to Kedarnath. | Source: ANI

The casualties may rise as some bodies may still be trapped in the mangled remains of the bus, he said. Seven persons injured in the mishap have been admitted to the district hospitals in Uttarkashi and Chinyalisaur, Uttarkashi District Magistrate Ashish Shrivastava said. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased.

The bus was ferrying 'Chardham' pilgrims from Gangotri in the Himalayas to Haridwar from where they had to go to Kedarnath.

Rescue operations are being carried out with the help of ITBP, SDRF and police personnel but they are facing difficulties due to the dark, he said. There were around 29 pilgrims, mostly from Indore, in the bus at the time of the accident, Shrivastava said.

Minister Narendra Modi also sanctioned Rs 2 lakh each for the next of kin of those killed in a bus accident. He also sanctioned from the PM National Relief Fund (PMNRF) Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured in the mishap.

(With inputs from PTI)

(Feature image source: ANI)