Collector Shivraj Singh Verma said 15 people died on the spot while others succumbed to their injuries in hospital. Verma said the bus was heading to Indore when it broke through the railing and fell around 50ft into the dry Borad river around 8.40am in Dongargaon area and overturned.
In a near-miracle, a two-year-old boy with a previously fractured arm was completely unharmed, although his parents were injured.
President Droupadi Murmu, PM Narendra Modi and CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan offered condolences. A magisterial probe has been ordered into the accident. Chouhan announced Rs 4 lakh each for the kin of the deceased, Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured and Rs 25,000 for other injured.
Minister in-charge of Khargone, Kamal Patel said there were about 70 passengers in the 35-seater bus and that the local RTO, Barkha Gaur Shukla, had been suspended.
Khargone sub-divisional officer (police) Rakesh Mohan Shukla said preliminary investigations indicated the driver had dozed off. He was seriously injured, while the conductor died. Villagers helped rescue many of the injured before the cops arrived, pulling them out by breaking windscreens and window panes of the bus and rushing them to hospital in private vehicles.