Panna (MP), May 4 (IANS) At least 21 people were burnt to death on Monday when their bus fell into a gorge and caught fire in Madhya Pradesh’s Panna district, an official said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the deaths, wishing a speedy recovery to the injured.

Divisional Commissioner, Sagar, R.K. Mathur told IANS that the accident occurred at about 2.00 p.m. when the private bus, plying from Chhattarpur to Panna, fell into the gorge in the Bhairav Ghat region and caught fire. However, 12 passengers were rescued.

“The bus fall caused an explosion, leading to a huge fire. The bodies were burnt beyond recognition and are in skeleton form. But relief and rescue efforts are being carried out,” he said, adding that a magisterial probe has been ordered into the incident.

Prime Minister Modi, in a message said: “News of bus accident in Panna, MP is extremely saddening. Condolences to families of the deceased. I wish the injured a speedy recovery.”

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced Rs.2 lakh each as ex-gratia for the next of kin of the deceased, Rs.50,000 for the badly injured and Rs.25,000 for those with minor injuries.

Witnesses said only a few passengers could manage to escape from the burning bus.