Shillong: Eighteen more dead bodies were recovered on Thursday from the 500-feet deep gorge, taking to 25 the death toll in a bus accident in Meghalaya, police said.
"A total of 25 dead bodies, including 18 more on Thursday, were recovered from the deep gorge during the search and rescue operation which was suspended again this evening following the sunset," Spill Thamar, the district police chief of East Jaintia Hills, told IANS.
The accident occurred on Tuesday night at Sonapur in East Jaintia Hills district, about 150 km from Shillong, when the privately-owned bus was on its way from Silchar in southern Assam to Guwahati via Meghalaya. Earlier reports put the toll at 29.
On Wednesday, a combined rescue team of Meghalaya Police, Border Security Force troopers and the local people evacuated nine injured people from the deep gorge and retrieved seven dead bodies.
"The rescue team has searched the gorge to locate any survivor or dead body but as of today the body count stand is 25 and the injured people is 9," Thamar said, adding that a mopping operation will be conducted on Friday to locate if there are any survivor or dead bodies in the gorge.
Moreover, he said that according to the passenger list provided by bus operator indicated that there were only 34 people on board.
He said the dead bodies have been kept at Khiehriat government hospital for post mortem.
Thamar said the injured persons, who are in a critical condition, have been shifted to the North East Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (NEIGRIMS) in Shillong and Jowai Civil hospital in West Jaintia Hills district.
"We have not been able to ascertain the cause of the accident," he said.
Meghalaya Governor V. Shanmuganathan, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and Home Minister Roshan Warjri have expressed pain over the tragic deaths in the accident.