Raigad, July 28: At least 33 university staffers were killed and one miraculously survived when a bus on a picnic trip fell into a deep gorge near Poladpur, around 175 km from Mumbai, on Saturday morning, officials said. There were 34 people travelling on the bus when the incident was reported at 9:30. It was exactly when the WhatsApp group, where they all were posting the pictures of the scenery along the route, fell silent. Also Read - Pressure Mounts on Modi Govt to Impose Nationwide Lockdown; Oppn Says Total Shutdown 'Inevitable' 

The sole survivor, Prakash Sawant, narrated how he got out of the bus when he realised the bus had skidded on the muddy road. “The bus veered to the left and fell into the gorge before we could understand what was happening. Trees arrested the fall someway down. I had managed to jump out in time. I climbed my way up somehow,” he said. Also Read - PM Dials Chief Ministers Of 4 States To Discuss Covid Situation In Their States. Read Details

When he reached the road, he saw people had gathered there, looking down the gorge. One of the people gathered at the spot gave him a mobile. Sawant then called the police control room and informed them of the accident. Also Read - Centre Faces Tough Question as Pressure Mounts to Impose Full Lockdown in India to Beat COVID Surge

One of the staff members, Pravin Randive, was also supposed to join the group for a picnic. The bus was supposed to leave at 6:30 AM. “But when they called me I said I can not make it because I am not well,” he said. “The last message came around 9.30am. They were supposed to stop for breakfast. There were no messages in the group after 9:30,” he added.

Randive messaged in the group after some time but there was still response. “At 12:30 PM, we came to know about the accident,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday expressed grief over the Raigad bus accident. “Pained by the loss of lives due to a bus accident in Maharashtra’s Raigad district. My condolences to those who lost their loved ones,” the Prime Minister tweeted. Congress president Rahul Gandhi also took note of the incident and appealed to his party workers in the area to provide assistance.

The Maharashtra Government on Saturday announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 4 lakh to the family of those who died in Raigad bus accident.