TWENTY-FIVE people were killed and 14 injured after a State Roadways bus collided with a truck and subsequently caught fire on National Highway-24 at Bithri Chenpur area of Bareilly in the wee hours of Monday. While 24, including children, were charred to death, one succumbed on way to Lucknow. The bodies were burnt to such an extent that DNA tests would have to be conducted to even identify their gender, said police. One passenger escaped unhurt.
Police said the bus, which was on the way from Delhi to Gonda, was carrying 37 passengers along with drivers Chandrashekhar Shukla and Sundar Lal Yadav, conductor Akhtar Aziz and one of Shukla’s relatives. The bus — being driven by Sundar Lal — had reached Invertis University in Bareilly when it collided with a truck coming from Shahjahanpur at around 1.10 am.
“The bus had halted at the Bareilly depot, where the driver filled the fuel tank. It seems to be his fault as he took a right turn at a T-point while he was driving rashly. A speeding truck coming from other side hit the bus and dragged it for about 10 m and the fuel tank exploded,” IG (Bareilly Range) S K Bhagat said.
While the only exit door of the bus was damaged, those sitting in the front seats managed to get down through the driver’s door and through the smashed front windshield. But those sitting in the rear got trapped and were charred to death, he added. “The bodies could not be recognised… DNA profiling will decipher their identity,” said the IG.
Bareilly Chief Fire Officer (CFO) K N Yadav said: “The collision was so strong that the fuel tank of the bus caught fire… The fire was massive as the diesel spread all around the bus and gave most occupants no time to escape.”
By the time the fire was doused, 24 passengers had been burnt to death, said SP (City) Rohit Singh, adding both the truck and bus drivers fled. “While driver Chandrashekhar and conductor Akhtar Aziz are among the injured, Sundar Lal, who was driving the bus, is absconding,” said officiating District Magistrate Manoj Kumar.
He added that nine of the injured have been admitted to the district hospital while five are undergoing treatment at Shri Siddhi Vinayak Hospital and SRMS Hospital in Bareilly. “DNA samples of all the deceased are being preserved,” said SSP Jogender Kumar.
The state government has announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the family of the deceased, Rs 50,000 to the seriously injured and Rs 25,000 to those with minor injuries. Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of lives and sanctioned Rs 2 lakh each to the kin of those killed. He also announced Rs 50,000 for each of those injured, reported PTI.