3 charred to death as bus catches fire

3 charred to death as bus catches fire

3 charred to death as bus catches fire

Three persons were charred to death and eight others, including a one-and-half-year-old girl, sustained injuries after a non-AC sleeper bus of Durgamba Travels, plying from Bengaluru to Dharwad caught fire near Varur in Hubballi taluk early morning on Wednesday.

The deceased have been identified as senior medical representative Suresh Hegde (49) of Kundapur, Shashi Koulagi (25) of Koulagi village in Basavanagabagewadi taluk of Vijayapura district and Dr Sagar Vasanthkumar Muder (25) of Haveri.

While some survivors claimed that the fire erupted due to a cigarette that one of the passengers was smoking in the back of the bus and due to the combustible chemicals being transported in the luggage box, the Fire & Emergency Services Department officials said that the accident may have happened due to short circuit.

At least four cartons each of materials like surgical items and agro chemicals, photocopy machine toner, cigarette packs and silicone gel were found in the bus. Though it is said that these inflammable materials may have caused the fire, police said the exact cause for the fire would be known only after a probe.

Due to the fire mishap, the upper portion of the bus was totally gutted. Fire also burnt a laptop, cash and other valuables kept in the luggage box.

The injured are Bhimappa (32, second driver), Sunil Ramrao Mane (49), Raghavendra V (34), Aishwarya Marad (19), Netra Shetty (28) and her daughter Samatha (18 months), and Mahantesh Patil (19). The last four injured are relatives. Of the eight injured, the condition of three (Sunil, Mahantesh and Aishwarya) is said to be critical.

The bodies of the three victims, which have been burnt beyond recognition, have been placed at KIMS mortuary for DNA testing.

“After collecting blood samples of the victims’ relatives, the body samples of the deceased will be sent to the Forensic Sciences department in Bengaluru for identification,” said Gajanan H Nayak, Head of the Forensic Sciences department at KIMS.  According to the fire personnel, the accident may have taken place between 5.30 am and 5.45 am.

“We received a call from public at 6 am and two fire extinguishers reached the spot by 6.05 am,” he said and added that by the time they reached the spot, most of the passengers had alighted from the bus.

Raghavendra, a survivor, said that the extent of injuries could have been minimised had the door separating the driver’s cabin and the seating area been opened by the driver. “I had to jump from the bus despite my leg being burnt in fire. After me, I made sure that my mother (Jayashri) jumped to safety.”