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Saturday 1 October 2016

Nepal bus crash victims were on their way to receive earthquake payments

Binaj Gurubacharya, in Kathmandu

Published 15/08/2016 | 17:26

Nepalese army personnel assist a victim of a bus accident after being airlifted from Birtadeurali in Kavre to Kathmandu, Nepal, August 15, 2016. Nepalese Army/Handout via REUTERS
Nepalese army personnel assist a victim of a bus accident after being airlifted from Birtadeurali in Kavre to Kathmandu, Nepal, August 15, 2016. Nepalese Army/Handout via REUTERS
Nepalese army personnel assist a victim of a bus accident after being airlifted from Birtadeurali in Kavre to Kathmandu, Nepal. Nepalese Army/Handout via REUTERS
Nepalese army personnel assist a victim of a bus accident after being airlifted from Birtadeurali in Kavre to Kathmandu, Nepal, August 15, 2016. Nepalese Army/Handout via REUTERS

A bus filled with people travelling to their home villages in Nepal to receive the first government payments for victims of last year's devastating earthquake has slipped off a narrow mountain road, killing at least 33 people and injuring 28 others.

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The bus was heading to Kartike Deurali village, among the worst hit by the quake, which killed nearly 9,000 people in the country.

The road - little more than a trail - was only wide enough for one vehicle to pass at a time and was slippery because of continuous rain.

Home ministry official Chiranjivi Nepal said 33 people were killed, but victims and relatives said many more may have died because the wreckage was scattered along the slope below the road and some areas were inaccessible.

"The bus stalled while climbing the hill and the driver tried to restart it, but the vehicle rolled backward and then slipped off the road," passenger Kopila Gautam said from a bed at the National Trauma Centre in Kathmandu.

Ms Gautam said about 85 passengers were riding inside the bus and on its roof. It was also packed with bags of rice, lentils, flour and other supplies being taken to villages. Ms Gautam was sitting on a sack of rice because there were no seats available.

People sit on a truck loaded with wood recovered from a house that collapsed during the April 25 earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal, June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
People sit on a truck loaded with wood recovered from a house that collapsed during the April 25 earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal, June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
A woman covers herself with a shawl as dust blows while the wreckage of a house damaged in the April 25 earthquake is demolished in Bhaktapur, Nepal, June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
A man is silhouetted against the sun as he manually demolishes the wreckage of a house which collapsed in the April 25 earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal, June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
A woman carries bricks recovered from the debris of a house that collapsed in the April 25 earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal, June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
Women walk past collapsed houses as the wreckage is manually demolished following the April 25 earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal, June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
People walk in front of the wreckage of collapsed houses after the April 25 earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal, June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
A boy (C) throws debris while manually demolishing collapsed houses, following the April 25 earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal, June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
People carry a wooden ladder recovered from a collapsed house following the April 25 earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal, June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
People manually demolish the wreckage of collapsed houses following the April 25 earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal, June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
Dust blows as a woman sweeps the premises of Hanumandhoka Durbar Square, a UNESCO world heritage site, as debris from temples that collapsed following the April 25 earthquake is cleared in Kathmandu, Nepal June 8, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
A boy walks along the debris of a collapsed temple carrying a trident, which is locally called "Trishul", a weapon used by Lord Shiva also known as the god of destruction, after the April 25 earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal June 8, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
Dust blows as women sweep the premises of Hanumandhoka Durbar Square, a UNESCO world heritage site, as the debris from the collapsed temples are cleared after the April 25 earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal June 8, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
Nepalese army personnel prepares to load the body of an earthquake victim who died on the U.S. military UH-1Y Huey helicopter crash during a mission to aid victims of the earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal June 8, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
Nepalese army personnel prepares to load the body of an earthquake victim who died on the U.S. military UH-1Y Huey helicopter crash during a mission to aid victims of the earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal June 8, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
Nepalese army personnel prepares to load the body of an earthquake victim who died in the U.S. military UH-1Y Huey helicopter crash, during a mission to aid victims, of the earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal June 8, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

She said she and other survivors struggled to climb back up to the road.

Pustak Guatam, a villager who reached the site about an hour after the accident to rescue his nephew, said bodies and wreckage were scattered over a large area.

"It appeared that the bodies were ejected as the bus rolled down the slope, so I am sure more bodies will be found," Mr Guatam said.

Mohan Giri, another villager who rushed to the hospital after hearing about the accident, said the bus was unusually crowded because many people were heading from Kathmandu to their villages to receive the first government grants for earthquake victims.

The accident occurred near Khare Khola, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of the capital. Officials said the bus plunged off the road and rolled about 150 metres (500ft).

Army and police personnel were searching the area for bodies.

Nepal's mountainous terrain, extreme weather and poorly maintained roads and vehicles often make for treacherous travel conditions. Many of the bus accidents in the country happen during the monsoon season, which begins in June and ends in September.

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