Millennium Post

Eerie silence in Bengal village as news of death trickles in from Odisha

Udaynaryanpur (WB): Families of small farmers and factory workers had scrimped and saved for several years to pay for a tour of their dreams in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

But fate willed otherwise. The bus that took them on their holiday turned turtle in the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday at a spot near the border between Ganjam and Kandhamal districts of Odisha as it was travelling to the port city of Vizag, leaving six dead and 40 injured.

The bodies of the villagers who were claimed by the accident are expected to arrive here on Thursday. Most of those injured will stay back in government hospitals in Ganjam for their treatment. Fifteen of them are in serious condition.

As reports of the mishap reached the village and TV news channels flashed visuals of the accident an eerie silence descended on Sultanpur, which is located Udaynaryan gram panchayat area in Howrah district. The only sound heard were the cries of close relatives lamenting the dead. Kitchens throughout the village remained shut.

Villagers told PTI that a tourist bus with 60 villagers had left Sultanpur for Darringbadi in Odisha's Phulbani district on May 23. On May 24 they had left Darringbadi, a hill station in Kandhamal district of Odisha, for the sandy beaches of Vishakhapatnam after dinner.

Bikash Denre, who was among the tourists in the ill fated bus, said over phone from Bhanjanagar in Odisha that the vehicle had hit a lamp post at around 1 am and overturned.

Denre said he was seated just two rows behind the driver. Most of the people in the bus were sleeping as it was night time.

Local people arrived after some time as did the police to begin the process of extracting the dead and injured.

The accident has dealt a severe blow to a family, which lost the lady of the house. Mausumi Denre, and her 22-year-old daughter Rima, who was to get married in six months' time. Their house lies empty and forlorn as the father and younger daughter who survived are in Ganjam undergoing treatment.

The couple's elder daughter, who is married, did not undertake the trip, said a relative.

The accident has also taken away the life of 34-year old Barnali Manna. Her sister-in-law Kabita Manna wept as she recollected their last meeting before Barnali left with her three-year-old daughter and husband for the trip.

"Didi's death is undoubtedly a tragedy. But what is worse is the news that the child will lose a leg due to the accident. I am very sad," she said with tears in her eyes.

Locals said that the families who went for the tour would pay monthly subscription to a local travel club to organise their travel. A big one like this one would take place after several years as they needed to accumulate more money to fund it.

The principal secretary in the state disaster management department, the block development officer and other state government officers have left for the spot. Udaynarayanpur MLA Samir Panja, who was asked to go was later instructed to stay back and look after grieving families.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee have condoled the death of the six tourists in the mishap.

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