CHITRADURGA: Five members of a family were killed on the spot when a Bengaluru-bound private bus from Vijayapura caught fire at Kasturi Rangappana Halli Gate near Javanagondanahalli in Hiriyur taluk on the Pune-Bengaluru National Highway-48 early on Wednesday. Four others were hospitalised with injuries. There were 29 passengers on board the bus.
The deceased are Sheela (33), her daughter Sparsha (8) and son Samrudh (5), sister Kavitha (29) and her daughter Nischitha (3). They were on the way to Bengaluru from Ganesh Nagar in Vijayapura. Sheela and Kavitha were staying at Virgo Nagar in Bengaluru where they worked as domestic helps.
The injured Dr Chowhan (33), Basavaraj (22) and Prashanth (23) are undergoing treatment at the taluk hospital in Hiriyur while Mansoor Patel from Rajajinagar, Bengaluru, was shifted to a Bengaluru hospital. According to the police, the bus caught fire around 4 am and the Chitradurga RTO is investigating the cause. One of the passengers said the driver and cleaner stopped the bus and jumped out when the fire started near the engine.
‘Panicked bus driver failed to open exits’
BASAVARAJ KODIHAL, a 22-year old BMTC staffer, who was travelling back to Bengaluru, said, “When I saw fire engulfing the bus, I jumped out by breaking the window.” Many passengers suffered minor injuries in the melee and are being treated at the Hiriyur taluk hospital. SP G Radhika, who visited the spot, said the bus driver did not open the main door and emergency exits. During preliminary investigation, it was found that he panicked and fled.
But he returned immediately and alerted the passengers to escape from the burning bus, she said. The cleaner of the bus is absconding and the accident was because of negligent driving, she added. The SP also said that she will recommend to the Transport Department to cancel the licence of Kukkeshree Travels, to which the bus belongs. This is the third incident where a bus has caught fire in Hiriyur taluk.
On April 16, 2014, six people from Davangere were killed at Metikurike. On January 21 this year, a Belagavi-bound KSRTC Corona bus caught fire near Aimangala toll gate. However, timely action of the bus driver saved the lives of passengers.