KOTTAYAM: Eleven passengers, including four women and a child, have been killed after a private bus with about 40 persons on board plunged into Meenachil River in Thazhathangadi, Kottayam Tuesday afternoon.
Local residents rushed to the spot and launched rescue operations within minutes of the accident and are understood to have rescued 17 persons.
Only the identity of fours persons has been ascertained. They have been identified as Babu Damodar, native of Kawdiar in the capital city, bus conductor Kochumon and Divya, native of Cherthala and a student of S N College. One person died during rescue operations and he has been identified as Sathish, native of Kummanam. The death toll is expected to rise again.
The District Collector said the help of Naval divers from Kochi has been sought for the rescue work.
Eyewitnesses say the bus was crowded with more than 40 passengers and most of them were students who had boarded it from the tourist destination of Kumarakom.
Jyothilekshmi, a college student who was saved, said all the passengers were sitting at the time of the incident.
The bus suddenly hit a post and fell into the river. As soon as the bus fell into the water, it sank and some of us somehow came to the top of the bus and swam. Then we were picked up by locals, said Jyothilekshmi.
Full-fledged rescue machinery including a crane which reached the scene is trying to lift the fully submerged bus.
Most of the passengers in the bus that was running in the Kottayam-Cherthala route were students who were on their way to see the �pakal pooram in Thirunakkara.
Although the reason for the accident is not immediately known, according to unconfirmed reports, the bus plunged into the river after hitting an electric post.