A team of technical experts from Volvo reached the spot of the accident on Wednesday morning to gather details and trace the source of the fire.
A representative from the company said the bus had a total fuel capacity of 600 litres and three separate fuel tanks. “It is a bit surprising that people are saying the tank burst. While we are not ruling out anything, the tank is built in a way that it would crack and the fuel would spill out instead of it bursting. A detailed report will be able to tell us more,” said Volvo’s official spokesperson.
The model of the bus, which was identified as the 9400 XL series, is equipped with various safety measures to minimise impact from accidents. “The wires are fire retardant, there are four emergency exits through the windows and the fuel tank is at the front of the bus below the first axle,” he said.
The technical team will also look at the possibility of other inflammable materials being stored around the fuel tank, which could have been a possible reason for the fire. Volvo insists on training three drivers at its facility in Bangalore for each bus sold by it. However, with the bus being taken on lease from another company, it is not known if Jabbar Travels sent their drivers to the facility for training.
‘Driver Could Have Saved Passengers’
Drivers from various private travel companies said the bus driver could have helped passengers escape by guiding them on how to break the emergency windows.
“Only the driver knows the layout of the bus. The emergency window has to be broken with the hammer provided. In case of an accident, the driver should have explained the exit mechanism,” said a Volvo bus driver.
Others said speeds of 100-120 kmph are normal on the Bangalore-Hyderabad route. While a few companies have installed speed governors, it is not a mandatory requirement. “If the bus crashed against a divider at that speed, there might have been sparks which may have caused the fire,” another driver said.
Drivers also complained about various issues which affect their judgement. “They have stopped the system of two drivers per bus. At night, the glare from oncoming vehicles makes it difficult to overtake. Many drivers take up overtime to earn more in spite of being tired. While the trip is supposed to take seven hours, we have to do it in less,” a driver said.