Holi homecoming turns tragic for Nepal's Indians
Feb 28, 2007 - 11:26:13 AM
Kathmandu, Feb 28 - The festival of Holi, played with colours to welcome the arrival of spring after winter, turned into grim tragedy for Indian families living across the border in Nepal with at least seven dying in a bus accident and several more admitted to hospital.
A long-distance night bus heading for the border town of Birgunj from Kathmandu Monday night slipped off the road in Chitwan district in southern Nepal early Tuesday and plunged into a river, killing 15 passengers.
The accident occurred in Dahakikhola village when the bus owned by Deshbhakta Travels agency fell off the Prithvi highway into the Trishuli river nearly 150m below.
'A deranged woman appeared in the middle of the road and as the bus swerved to avoid hitting her, it toppled below,' Ishwor Rai, a passenger who had survived the crash, said.
There were nearly 50 passengers, with a large number of Indians from Bihar district, who have been living and working in Nepal and were going home to celebrate Holi.
Thirteen people died on the spot while two more succumbed to their injuries while being given medical treatment. A large number of Indians were also among the 31 passengers who had survived with injuries.
Working mostly as labourers and in other low-paid jobs, the victims come from economically disadvantaged sections.
Forty-year-old Rajendra Prasad Yadav of Champaran in India's Bihar state was the one of the first victims to be identified. He died while undergoing treatment in Chitwan.
The other six are Jayaram Sharma, 23, of Amarpur, Tipu Sharma, 24, from Bhagalpur, Jawahar Sharma, also from Bhagalpur, Manohar Sharma, 35, from Bhagalpur, and Ekbal Chamar, 30, from Sikta.
At least nine more Indians from Bihar were receiving medical treatment in Chitwan, Nepal's official media said Wednesday.
This is the worst road accident to have occurred in Nepal this year.
Bad roads, old vehicles, overloading and overworked drivers are the usual reasons for the high incidence of accidents in Nepal.
The US government in its travel advisory has warned its citizens of the dangers of travelling Nepal by road, especially in night buses, asking them to avoid such journeys.
However, though Indians form the bulk of foreign nationals travelling in Nepal on long-distance buses, the Indian government has no policy of issuing travel advisories and warning its citizens of the incumbent perils.
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