30 killed in bus accident

Vehicle hits cement wall, catches fire in Chitradurga

30 killed in bus accident

All that remains of the Bangalore-bound bus after it overturned and burst into flames near Challakere in Chitradurga district on Sunday. DH photo

The North East Karnataka State Transport Corporation (NEKSRTC) bus was on its way to Bangalore from Surpur in Yadgir district when it rammed into a cement retaining wall near Nayakanahatty Cross on Bidar-Srirangapattana State Highway. It then fell into a ditch and within minutes was engulfed in flames after the iron rods of the retaining wall pierced its diesel tank.

A child survivor waits at a hospital in Challakere.  AFPMost of its 64 passengers, labourers heading to Bangalore in search of jobs, were asleep when the accident occurred. Police and fire force personnel rushed to the spot and brought the flames under control.

The dead included 15 women, 10 children and five men, some of whom were charred beyond recognition. The 27 injured have been admitted to Challakere government hospital.

Three of them, who are said to be in critical condition, have been shifted to district hospital in Chitradurga. Two drivers, the conductor and four passengers have escaped unhurt. Identity of all the victims has been established.

Driver’s negligence

Transport Minister R Ashok, who visited the spot, said a team led by Superintendent of Police, Labhu Ram, had been constituted to probe into the accident and submit a report in a week.

According to early reports, the accident occurred due to the negligence of the driver who had consumed alcohol, he said.

There were two drivers —Siddayya Madanayya Hiremutt and Amarashetty — in the bus, which left Surpur at 7 pm on Saturday. Siddayya is said to have taken over the wheel at Siraguppa where the vehicle was stopped at a dhaba for dinner.

Speed governors had been installed on all buses, including the Volvos, to restrict the speed to 70 kmph. But according to the minister, a child in the seat behind the driver’s had overheard a conversation between the two drivers, with one cautioning the other about rash driving.

SP Labhu Ram said a case had been registered against the driver and the NEKSRTC. The drivers and the conductor, Nandanagouda, are in police custody.

Compensation

Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, who expressed shock at the tragedy, has announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh for each victim from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. The NEKSRTC has also announced a compensation of Rs 2.5 lakh to the kin of each of those killed and Rs 25,000 for the injured.

State Revenue Minister G Karunakara Reddy also visited the spot to supervise rescue and relief operations. NEKSRTC Managing Director Shankar Patil earlier said according to preliminary information, the driver, in his attempt to avoid hitting one more bus rammed into the barricade. The casualties were high due to the fire.

“As per norms, we had kept two drivers. One driver with 20 years of experience always drives on that road and the second one was having five years of experience,” he said.

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