Festive season turned into a major tragedy for several families after 45 passengers including an infant, travelling in a private luxury Volvo bus were charred to death, many of them beyond recognition, here on Wednesday morning after the vehicle collided with a culvert on the highway, and then burst into flames after its fuel tank caught fire.
Only seven members including the driver and the cleaner managed to dodge death. The incident took place at NH44, near Palem, Mahbubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh early on Wednesday morning at about 5 10 am, when the bus was coming to Hyderabad from Bangalore.
"Only five of the bodies have been identified till now. However, relatives of 34 passengers out of 45 have arrived here to collect information," D Nagendra Kumar, Superintendent , Mahbubnagar district, told Express.
He added that the driver, Feroz Pasha, escaped without any major injuries and has been taken into custody, after which he confessed that the accident happened when he was trying to overtake another vehicle on the highway, but hit a culvert on the right side instead.
"The entire bus was burnt within a span of half an hour, because that's when the ambulance had arrived, but by then all the 45 lives were lost," Kumar said, adding that a case has been registered against the driver under sections 304 (A), 337, 338 of the IPC and the Motor Vehicle Act for causing the accident.
Fifty-two persons, including the driver and the cleaner, Ayyaz Pasha, were travelling in the Volvo bus. Ayyaz was also one among the seven victims who survived the mishap, and is currently undergoing treatment at Osmania hospital in Hyderabad, informed Kumar.
Kumar, who was supervising the operation said, "The identification of the deceased will be determined after conducting DNA tests and collecting blood samples of the relatives, and that the mortal remains will be handed over the kin of the deceased after the DNA tests,". A team of doctors from Gandhi Hospital and Osmania General Hospital and forensic experts from Hyderabad rushed to the spot to conduct post-mortem of the bodies. When asked whether the driver was driving under the influence, Kumar said that it will be known only once medical tests are done.
The Volvo AC bus, numbered AP 02 TA 0963, was leased by Jabbar Travels, Bangalore, from Diwakar Road Lines, owned by former minister JC Diwakar Reddy. It had left from Bangalore at 11 pm on Tuesday night.
According to police officials, the five persons who escaped death were those who boarded the vehicle last, and survived the accident as they were seated in the front. "Basically, everyone who was sitting in the back burnt to death, as the 200 litre diesel tank caught fire within minutes after hitting the culvert," said a senior police official who was present at the accident site.
Police said they had collected the list of passengers from the private bus operators and found that the online booking list had names of 33 bus-passengers and other travellers may have boarded the bus later. The bus, is presently on the rolls of the RTO, Bangalore, since October 2011. The fitness validity is valid upto October 2014, while the permit number issued by the Karnataka RTA is valid up to November 2 2016.
The five injured persons who were rescued from the bus are Masood Pasha, Yogesh, Yaya Singh, Drikar, and Rajesh. All of them were admitted at Apollo hospital near Kanchan Bagh, Hyderabad, and three of them are said to be in critical condition. Of the 45 lives lost, not even one body remained identifiable easily, as all of them were charred beyong recognition in the flames that errupted almost immediately after the accident. Among the deceased, five or six persons are belived to be software professionals from the city.
The Volvo bus (AP 02 TA 0963) left from Bangalore at 11 pm on Tuesday night.
The accident took place at 5 10 am, at NH 44, near Palem, Mahbubnagar district on Wednesday morning.
Due to a large capacity of the diesel tank of about 200 litres, the flames caught on quickly.
Of the 52 people in the bus, 44 adults, and one infant were charred to death beyond recognition.
The driver Feroz Pasha escaped unhurt, while five passengers and the cleaner escaped with injuries.
The driver was taken into custody immediately and a case has been registered against him under sections 304 (A), 337, 338 of the IPC and the Motor Vehicle Act for causing the accident.
The five passengers managed to survive as they were seated in the front of the bus.
Due to vehicle being an AC bus, it had curtains, and was sealed, because of which the passengers were unable to escape easily.
Police officials also said that since most of the passengers were sleeping, the less amount of time and the instant fire resulted in the large number of deaths.
The five injured persons who were rescued were admitted at Apollo hospital near Kanchan Bagh, Hyderabad. Three of them are said to be in critical condition.
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