It was around 7.30 p.m. on Friday when mobile phone of Ananthagiri SI K. Sudhakar rang, and he was informed that a private bus fell into the valley at hairpin bend – 5 near Damuku. He, along with the staff, left for the accident spot, which is about 10 km from the police station. He also alerted the higher-ups and 108 personnel for rescue operation. The police personnel faced difficult forest terrain and thick fog.
“It was completely dark and the area was engulfed in fog. The valley was about 400 foot deep. All we had was two dragon lights. Since we are trained in trekking, we climbed down the slope,” Mr. Sudhakar recalled.
The police were supported by local transport drivers, who generally work near Katiki waterfalls and villagers of Damuku. Many local women from Damuku had taken care of the children whose parents were injured.
Bujji, a member of Borra Motor Drivers’ Welfare Society, said that two union members who were coming by that route, saw the accident and immediately shared it in the WhatsApp group, asking support from the members, and around 40 of us rushed to the spot to lend a helping hand.
Mr. Sudhakar said that five persons were required to carry one injured person to the road point, since we had to trek uphill. “We carried them on our shoulders,” he said. Many locals used mobile phone lights to carry out the rescue operations.
“Our only plan was to waste no time and shift as many as possible to hospital to save lives. The locals really came forward and helped us. We used 108 ambulances, our station vehicles and the local transport to shift the injured,” the SI added.
Meanwhile the King George Hospital (KGH) witnessed heart-rending scenes on Saturday morning. Among the 23 injured who were shifted to the hospital for treatment, seven were minors. Among the seven, five were below 10 years of age. As parents of many of these children were undergoing treatment and a few among them were unconscious, it was the hospital staff including nurses, helpers and doctors, took care of the children, while they were crying for their parents. The tourists were seen in deep shock and grief after the accident.
“Everything was going well since the last three days. But seems like all of a sudden our lives are changed now. We were about to reach plain area in half an hour. That was when everyone shouted that brakes are not working properly. Everyone screamed and then we met with the accident,” recalls a passenger at KGH.
All the tourists were from one joint family from Hyderabad.