Shimla : Authorities in Himachal Pradesh are not really prepared to handle road accidents, say volunteers who helped in the rescue operation in a bus accident in which 46 passengers were killed last Tuesday.
A large number of residents of nearby villages were the first to reach the accident site – a 200-metre gorge in Fagu, about 25 km from here.
“We had a tough time extracting the victims from the bus as there was no metal-cutting equipment. One passenger, who was crying for help, couldn’t be saved as he was trapped in a huge iron block,” said Jagir Singh Negi, a villager.
As the bus rolled down the gorge, it was reduced to a mangled mass of metal.
Another villager Narender Thakur said: “It’s sad that we couldn’t save a person trapped under a rock as we did not have either a ladder or a rope to reach the victim on time.”
He said even the fire-brigade personnel that reached almost one hour after the accident did not have requisite infrastructure to provide timely help to the victims.
Most of the administration and police officials reached the spot an hour after the accident, eyewitnesses told IANS.
Porter Tikam Negi said nearly 20 porters from the popular tourist destination of Kufri reached the spot within 10 minutes of the accident and rescued most of the passengers.
He said there were no stretchers at the spot to lift the injured. Most of the victims were bodily lifted.
“We rescued two children from the bushes and took them for first aid but due to lack of medical help they died,” he said.
He said there was total chaos at the spot that hampered the rescue operation.
The state of affairs was such that even doctors of the Indira Gandhi Medical College conducted the post-mortem examinations in the open.
“There was even shortage of coffins, what to talk about the medicines,” said R.S. Negi, another volunteer.
Vivek Kondal of Damora village near Kumarsain, who reached the spot to collect the bodies of seven residents of his village, said: “For more than one hour, I had to really request each and every motorist for help in taking the bodies to the village. Finally, a taxi driver volunteered and transported the bodies to the village free of cost.”