Bus accident in south India kills at least 55 people

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Rescuers pull out passengers from a bus that fell into a gorge in Jagtiyal district of Telangana, India, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. (AP)
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Relatives of victims of a bus accident wail near a hospital in Jagtiyal district of Telangana, India, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. A bus carrying pilgrims from a Hindu temple in the hills of south India plunged off a road Tuesday, killing more than 50 people including four children, officials said. (AP)
Updated 11 September 2018
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Bus accident in south India kills at least 55 people

HYDERABAD, India: A bus carrying pilgrims from a Hindu temple in the hills of south India plunged off a road Tuesday, killing at least 55 people including four children, officials said. At least 33 others were injured.
The driver lost control as he hit a speed bump on a road leading from the popular Anjaneya Swamy temple in Telangana state, about 190 kilometers (118 miles) from Hyderabad, the state capital, Transport Minister P. Maneder Reddy said. The overcrowded bus pitched into a gorge.
Crowds often throng the temple on Tuesdays. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Hanuman, and Tuesdays are seen as auspicious for offering prayers to him.
Passersby rushed to help after the bus crashed, mangling the front of the vehicle. Volunteers crawled into the bus through broken windows, carrying the dead and injured though thick grass and up the hill to the road. The injured were taken to area hospitals.
Local broadcaster ETV showed chaotic scenes at a hospital in Jagtiyal, where people wailed over bodies in a mortuary.
Reddy said at a news conference that the bus depot manager had been suspended.
“The bus was carrying more passengers than allowed,” Reddy said, adding that the accident appeared to have been caused by a brake failure.
An investigation has been ordered into the cause, officials said.
Among those killed was the bus driver, who lost both of his legs in the accident and later died in the hospital.
“The bus accident in Telangana’s Jagtial district is shocking beyond words,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet. “Anguished by the loss of lives. My thoughts and solidarity with the bereaved families. I pray that the injured recover quickly.”
President Ram Nath Kovind also said that he was shocked to learn about the accident.
Around 150,000 people die every year on India’s roads, often because of reckless driving, badly maintained roads and vehicles overcrowded with passengers.
Deadly bus accidents are common. In July, 48 people were killed when a bus crashed into a gorge in Uttarakhand state.


India’s Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal

Updated 2 min 10 sec ago
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India’s Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal

  • Indian political parties have been gunning for Modi over the 2016 purchase of 36 Rafale planes from Dassault Aviation estimated to be worth $8.7 billion, saying he had overpaid for the planes and had not been transparent.
  • Political analysts say that the BJP is “losing in the perception war.”

DELHI: India’s prime minister was under fire over allegations of corruption in a military jet deal with France after comments by former French President François Hollande. Hollande was quoted as saying Narendra Modi’s government had influenced the choice of a local partner.
Indian political parties have been gunning for Modi over the 2016 purchase of 36 Rafale planes from Dassault Aviation estimated to be worth $8.7 billion, saying he had overpaid for the planes and had not been transparent.
The opposition, led by Congress President Rahul Gandhi, spent the past year alleging that the deal is a scam, in which India is overpaying for jets and the government is allowing a private company — billionaire Indian businessman Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defense — to benefit instead of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
On Friday, Hollande, who cleared the intergovernmental deal when he was in office, was quoted as saying New Delhi had put pressure on Dassault to choose Reliance.
“We had no choice. We took the interlocutor that was given to us,” he was reported as telling the French news service Mediapart, fueling a political storm in India.
The Indian government, however, has insisted all along that it had nothing to do with Dassault’s decision to work with Reliance Defense.
Under Indian defense procurement rules, a foreign firm must invest at least 30 percent of the contract in India to help to build up its manufacturing base and wean off imports.
HAL was the sole contender for being the local partner of Dassault Aviation, but when the deal was sealed in 2015 during Modi’s Paris trip the Reliance Defense procured the contract .
“The PM personally negotiated and changed the Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to François Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to ...Anil Ambani,” said Mr. Gandhi in a tweet.
Gandhi further tweeted: “The PM and Anil Ambani jointly carried out a ... SURGICAL STRIKE on the Indian Defense forces. Modi Ji you dishonored the blood of our martyred soldiers. Shame on you. You betrayed India’s soul.”
Gandhi repeated the charge in a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday.
The BJP, however, says that there is no corruption.
“The fact that two sovereign heads of States negotiated a deal means that there is no room for corruption,” said Sudesh Verma, BJP spokesperson.
Talking to Arab News Verma emphasized that “the highest integrity was maintained in the deal. Now the Congress is not talking of corruption but favoritism. Merely by saying that Reliance Defense was favored by us would not cut any ice. These are insinuations and are irresponsible.”
Political analysts say that the BJP is “losing in the perception war.”
“No matter what the indian government says that perception is that the Indian government gave the offset contract to Anil Ambani, a guy who has no history of producing defense equipment,” says Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a New Delhi based political analyst.
He added: “The halo around Modi has been severely diminished after the recent revelations. This is something which it would be very difficult to live it down now.”