Forty-five people, including an infant, were charred to death when a private bus going to Hyderabad from Bangalore burst into flames after hitting a culvert near Mahbubnagar early Wednesday morning. Seven people, including the AC Volvo bus driver and the cleaner, managed to escape.
The incident occurred on NH 44 near Palem in Mahbubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh around 5.10 am.
“Only five of the bodies have been identified,” D Nagendra Kumar, Superintendent of Police, Mahbubnagar district, told Express. He added that the driver, Firoz Pasha, escaped without major injuries and has been taken into custody. Pasha said the accident occurred when he hit a culvert on the right side while trying to overtake another vehicle.
“The entire bus was gutted in a span of half-an-hour. By the time the ambulance arrived, all the 45 people were burnt alive,” Kumar said, adding that a case has been registered against the driver under the Indian Penal Code and the Motor Vehicles Act.
Fifty-two people, including the driver and the cleaner, Ayyaz Pasha, were travelling in the Volvo bus. Ayyaz is undergoing treatment at Osmania hospital in Hyderabad. Kumar, who was supervising operations, said, “The mortal remains will be handed over to the relatives after DNA tests.”
A team of doctors from Gandhi Hospital and Osmania General Hospital and forensic experts from Hyderabad rushed to the spot to conduct the post-mortems. Asked if the driver was under the influence of alcohol, Kumar said it will be known once the necessary medical tests are done.
The bus (AP 02 TA 0963) was leased by Jabbar Travels, Bangalore, from Diwakar Road Lines, owned by former minister J C Diwakar Reddy. It had left Bangalore at 11 pm on Tuesday.
According to the police, the five who escaped death had boarded the bus last. They survived because they were seated in the front.
Police said they had collected the list of passengers from the private bus operator and found that the online booking list had names of 33 passengers and the others may have boarded the bus later.
The bus has been on the rolls of the RTO, Bangalore, since October 2011. The fitness certificate is valid till October 2014, while the permit issued by the Karnataka RTA is valid till November 2, 2016.
The five injured passengers are Masood Pasha, Yogesh, Yaya Singh, Srikar and Rajesh. All of them were admitted at Apollo Hospital near Kanchan Bagh, Hyderabad, and three of them are critical.