Seven people were burnt alive when a Volvo bus caught fire after hitting a culvert near Haveri early on Thursday. Three children and a woman were among those charred to death. Forty others suffered injuries, many of them fractures.
The speeding Bangalore-Mumbai Volvo bus brushed past the retaining wall of a culvert on the Pune-Bangalore national highway near Haveri, in northern Karnataka, at 2.30 am, according to police. Its diesel tank burst open, and the vehicle went up in flames.
Khalim and his wife Samira Banu, children Saif, Romaan and Amaan (all from Mumbai), and Nayaz, a stand-by driver (sleeping in the boot), are among those killed. It is not clear whether the couple and children belonged to the same family. Police are yet to identify one body.
The bus originated from Bangalore and had travelled about 350 km when the accident took place. The driver fled after the accident, and police are trying to track him down. The ill-fated bus had an All India Omni Bus permit, and was allegedly operating in violation of the permit norms. This permit is given to those buses operating as contract carriages in more than three states.
National Travels (owned by JD(S) MLA Zameer Ahmed), the bus operator, has announced a compensation of `5 lakh for the families of the deceased. The company also promised to take care of the medical expenses of those injured. “It appears negligent driving is the cause of the accident,” said N Shashikumar, Superintendent of Police, Haveri.
Most passengers were sleeping at the time of the accident. They were woken up by screaming co-passengers who noticed the fire engulfing the bus.
Rescue Op Heroes
Passengers Prasanth Pandey of Delhi and Altaf, a 14-year-old from Bangalore, assisted by some others, managed to break windows and pull out all but the seven who were burnt alive. “If the window panes had not been broken, casualties would have been much higher,” said Dileepkumar Shindhe, a passenger who sustained a minor injury on his right hand. The bodies have been kept at the Shiggaon government hospital. Those who sustained minor injuries were given first aid at the government hospital in Haveri. Six seriously injured passengers have been admitted to KIMS Hospital, Hubli. A number of passengers who jumped from the bus fractured their limbs.
Stop Devpt Work in Ghats: MoEF
The order is, however, likely to face criticism locally and from state governments which do not want to put a stop to infrastructure projects. Though new and other expansion projects will be prohibited, cases which were received by state and national-level environment agencies for clearance before April 17 will be dealt with by the rules that were applicable at the time.
The 10-member Kasturirangan committee was set up after the earlier committee under Madhav Gadgil recommended stricter measures for the entire Western Ghats. After fierce opposition from the states, the green ministry set up a new panel. The Western Ghats has been identified as a global biodiversity hotspot and treasure trove of biological activity.