An SUV in President Pranab Mukherjee’s motorcade skidded off a hilly road and went down a 100-feet gorge near here today, injuring six people including an IB officer.
The President, who was on his way to Bagdogra to catch a flight to Delhi after a four-day trip to the region, “is safe” and the convoy was halted at a secured location, his Press Secretary Venu Rajamony said.
Because of low visibility due to rains and fog, the SUV, Mahindra Scorpio, which was third car in the convoy carrying Security Liaison Officer of the Intelligence Bureau and local police officials, skidded off the road and rolled down the deep gorge before getting stuck in trees near Sonada, 30 kms from here.
The accident happened while the vehicle was negotiating a bend, ADG (Law and Order) Anuj Sharma said, adding all the six security personnel have been rescued after a 45-minute rescue operation and admitted to a hospital.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called up the President to enquire about his well-being immediately after learning about the accident.
The rescue operation was supervised by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee whose cavalcade was following the Presidents convoy.
Son of the President and MP Abhijeet Mukherjee also chipped in the rescue efforts and tried to descend into the gorge but was stopped by security personnel.
Army personnel, along with those working in the Presidents Secretariat, were engaged in the rescue operation.
The injured IB officer was being brought to Delhi.
Security norms do not allow doors of security vehicles to be locked which proved a boon for the personnel as they were thrown out the vehicle as it rolled down the gorge.
The President was on a four-day visit to Darjeeling from July 12.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan tweeted, “Car in Presidents carcade from Darjeeling to Bagdogra goes off road, minor injuries to security personnel; #PresidentMukherjee safe”
“Unfortunate accident involving escort vehicle in convoy enroute to Bagdogra today; everybody well by grace of God #PresidentMukherjee,” it said.
“#PresidentMukherjee proceeds to Bagdogra to emplane for Delhi after ensuring injured security personnel safe and have received medical attn (sic),” the tweet said.