27 killed, 29 injured in Maharashtra accident
A total of 27 people were killed, including six children below 14 years, while on their way back from a wedding and 29 injured as a speeding truck hit two stationary mini-buses on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway early Monday, officials said.
The accident, one of the worst since the Expressway opened to traffic 12 years ago, occurred near Khalapur, around 80 km from Mumbai.
"The accident occurred shortly after midnight when one of the mini-buses developed a tyre puncture. While the second bus was throwing light on the first, a truck came from behind and rammed it in the rear," an official from Khalapur police station told IANS.
"Owing to the hit, the mini-bus rammed into the one ahead of it, killing many who were asleep in the bus," the official added.
The buses, carrying members of a marriage party from Ghatkopar suburb of northeast Mumbai, were returning to Pune when the gruesome accident occurred, an official said.
Those injured have now been lodged in Ruby Hopsital in Pune and Pan Asian Hospital in Panvel in Raigad district. Of the 29 injured, 11 are still in hospital, but in stable condition. The others have been discharged after treatment.
The driver of the truck, Somnath Udtare, 27, has been arrested by Khalapur police.
One of the bus drivers told mediapersons that the passengers were taken completely unawares when the speeding truck hit the buses and a majority of the victims were killed instantaneously.
Officials from the state highway authority said this was by far the biggest accident on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway since it was opened to traffic in 2000. However, there has been no official confirmation of this.
Those killed have been identified as Shraddha Kamle, 16, Kalpana Bahule, 32, Poornima Manjre, 25, Poonam Kharat, 22, Reshma Sonawane, 27, Kantabai Alhat, 50, Nanda Ahwal, 48, Aruna Kharat, 28, Swapnil Sonawane, 7, Kalavati Gaikwad, 50, Srikant Kamle, 32, Sharad Jadhav, 35, Nirmala Kamle, 40, Sachin Taaru, 12, Praveen Kharat, 40, Amisha Kharat, 18, Aarya Bahule, 8, Geeta Sitape, 5, Pooja Shinde, 14, Omkar Sonawale, 7 and Mangal Gaikwad, 40.
Others were identified as Shubhan Gaikwad, Sanjana Gaikwad, Diksha Pawar, Siddharth Mhaske, Sapna Gaikwad and an unidentified boy. Their ages were yet unconfirmed.