A passenger bus going from Talcher to Cuttack fell off the Mahanadi bridge near Cuttack killing 12 persons and injuring 30 others. The bus plunged 30 ft down and fell on sand as there was no water on that particular patch of the river.

It is suspected that the passenger bus hit a buffalo on the bridge, lost control and crashed the railings before plunging down. The accident occurred in the evening.

Rescue teams of the fire services, Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force and police had a tough time as it was dark and there was water on both sides of the accident spot. Fire personnel who were among the first to reach the spot for rescue operations said it was extremely difficult situation as one had to drop down rope ladders from the bridge in the dark and then carry the injured in boats since it was not possible to lift them up using the rope ladder, said BK Sharma, DG, Fire Services.

Ambulances and boats were rushed to the site. Police teams headed by Commissioner of Police Satyajit Mohanty supervised the rescue operations.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik directed Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Chandra Sarathi Behera to rush to the spot. He expressed deep concern and instructed expeditious rescue operations.

DGP Dr RP Sharma, who was a Delhi, said seven persons had died and more than 30 injured in the mishap.

The injured were taken to SCB Medical College Hospital in Cuttack, which is less than 8 km from the accident spot.

B K Sharma said at least 25 injured had been shifted to the hospital. “It is taking time as the bus has landed virtually at a mid spot of the river and there is water on both sides towards its banks. Each has to be carried to the water portion and then shifted in boats,” he explained.

Latest reports said the rescue operations had been completed – with at least 30 injured admitted to hospital.

The injured included nine men and three women.