SOUTHAMPTON City Council is today flying its flag half mast at the Civic Centre in memory of the city couple who died in a bus crash in India.

Roopesh Nawarkhele, 38, and his wife Kavita, 37, were killed instantly when their coach overturned after colliding with a car.

Witnesses said that their nine-year-old daughter Ananya was sitting on her parents' lap when the accident happened and she is now in a hospital near Chandigarh in the Punjab state and is being treated for serious injuries.

Roopesh worked as a senior social worker in the city council's children's services department.

Today colleagues were trying to come to terms with the death of the experienced and well respected senior practitioner who had moved to Southampton from his native India in 2007.


Daily Echo:

MUCH LOVED: Roopesh Nawarkhele and his wife Kavita.

Council chief executive Dawn Baxendale said colleagues are “deeply saddened” and added: “Roopesh was a much loved and highly respected member of our children's services team “His dedication and commitment to the children in the city was second to none. Both he and his wife were actively involved with a number of community groups in the city.

“Our team has lost an outstanding social worker and our thoughts remain with the couple's daughter and their family.

“We have lowered the Council Arms flag outside the Civic Centre today as a mark of our respect to his Roopesh and his family.”

Ananya is believed to be conscious but has suffered severe injuries below her stomach and doesn't yet know that her parents have died.

Last night doctors were discussing moving her to a hospital in Delhi.

Three students, studying in Chandigarh, travelling in a car that struck the coach, died in the crash and 15 other bus passengers were injured.

Indian police are investigating the incident and have arrested the bus driver on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

They had travelled to India on July 28 to visit family and were due to return home on Friday.

The family were making the 300-mile overnight bus journey to Delhi from Dharasamala when the bus crashed near Chandigarh at 2am on Saturday.

The vehicle - owned by The Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) - overturned, hitting a Swift car going towards Mohali, Punjab.

Friends, neighbours and members of Southampton's Hindu community are among those praying for Ananya's safe recovery.