Thursday, March 21, 2013

India: 37 Killed, 15 Injured When Tourist Bus Falls Off Mumbai-Goa Highway, Injured Include Foreigners

Thirty-seven passengers traveling on a private tourist bus were killed and 15 injured (including several foreign tourists) in the worst-ever accident on the elevated Mumbai-Goa Highway when the heavily-packed bus fell some 20 meters at 0330 hours early on Tuesday (March 19). The bus from Goa was en-route to Mumbai when the bus fell from the bridge.

Police said the driver lost control when it was crossing the bridge over the Jagbudi River near Khed in Ratnagiri district. The bus landed upside down on a dry patch of the river bed.

COMMENT: It is unclear as to whether the drive was intoxicated at the time, although blood alcohol levels will be measured.

Such accidents are a common occurrence in developing countries, where drivers are often fatigued, intoxicated or simply inexperienced. Additionally, rarely are such vehicles well-maintained.

Generally speaking, I strongly discourage foreign travelers from taking long-haul bus rides, particularly at night, in such countries as India.

A much better alternative would be to hire a car and driver from a reputable international hotel or make a reservation on a domestic flight. Admittedly, transportation costs can increase dramatically, but in India, like in most countries, additional cost often translates into greater safety, not to mention comfort.   

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan announced in the Legislative Assembly a compensation of Rs. 2 lakh each to the kin of the victims and Rs. 50,000 to the injured. 

For a photo of the accident, see: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper