PATNA: At least seven people travelling in a bus died and six others were injured on Thursday as the ill-fated vehicle overturned, skidded off the road and caught fire in Bihar’s East Champaran district.
The air-conditioned bus with two-by-two seating arrangement was travelling from Muzaffarpur to New Delhi, a distance of about 1,062 km. There were 13 passengers in the bus when the mishap took place on the four-lane NH 28 near Bangra under Kotwa police station area, said police sources.
The death of seven people was caused due to physical injuries, burn wounds and asphyxiation as the bus caught fire immediately after falling into a pit some three metres below the highway, said sources. Local villagers rushed to the spot and pulled the passengers out. They also tried to douse the flames by throwing sand and soil, but in vain. A fire tender reached the spot more than an hour after the mishap took place, said sources.
“The injured people were rushed to a local government hospital. Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur was put on alert to start treatment of the critically injured patients immediately after arrival,” said Tirhut divisional commissioner HR Srinivasan.
Bihar Disaster Management Minister Dinesh Chandra Yadav said the bus, run by transport firm Sahil Raj Travels, was said to be at a high speed and overturned due to sudden application of brakes.
“A probe has been ordered. We have been told that the mishap took place as the bus tried to save a biker and a van that suddenly appeared at its front,” he said.
The Bihar government announced an ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh for the next of kin of each victim. CM Nitish Kumar spoke of the mishap and condoled the deaths in his speech at a public programme of the transport department in Patna.
Total 32 people had booked tickets in the bus. Seventeen people were set to board it at Gopalganj, but the mishap took place before the bus reached there. The bus, which bore an Uttar Pradesh registration number, reportedly did not have either a fitness clearance or a transport permit for long-distance plying. A Bihar State Transport Federation functionary said a request was sent to the transport department some time ago to stop the plying of this bus.
A Muzaffarpur-based manager of the transport company was detained and interrogated by police. The transport firm’s Delhi-based owner, Abhishek Pandey, faces arrest for violation of transport rules, said a police official.