Close to a week after an accident on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway left eight people dead and 14 injured, DNA samples of the kin of the deceased have been taken and will be sent to JJ Hospital to identify the dead, the police said.
Three vehicles were gutted after a collision between a diesel tanker and luxury bus on the highway, 12 km from Manor village.
“At this point, it is impossible to identify bodies. The families submitted claims with us last week. Accordingly, we took DNA samples from immediate family members and will send these to JJ Hospital. Once the reports from the forensic department there are received, we will hand over the bodies,” said Assistant Police Inspector Meghana Burande, Manor police station.
At 1.30 am on Wednesday, January 29, a diesel tanker hired by BPCL and travelling from Wadala to Hazira in Gujarat broke down in the middle of the road after ramming into a vehicle moving ahead of it, the police said.
The tanker’s driver, Shafiq Siddiqui (22), realised that the steering had jammed and walked to a petrol pump nearby to fetch a crane. The police said he instructed the cleaner, Nizam Ahmad Shah (20), to stay with the tanker and signal vehicles to steer clear of it.
The luxury bus, which was travelling to Ahmedabad from Pune rammed straight into the stationary tanker, the police said. A Hyundai Verna car speeding behind also rammed into the bus. The three persons inside the car escaped with minor injuries. In the blaze that followed due to fuel leak, the bus driver, Shaukat Mulani (36), the second driver and six passengers were burnt alive, the police said. Both Siddiqui and Shah fled after the accident and were arrested a few hours later.
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While one of the passengers, Chiplun native Sooraj Chavan (41), was identified by a silver locket he wore around his neck, the other seven deceased remain unidentified, the police said.
Doctors and local police said bodies had been completely charred, with no features discernible. The bodies were later sent to JJ Hospital in Mumbai for a forensic examination.
The police have also questioned the owner of the tanker and the management of Prasanna Purple Travels, which owned the luxury bus. “We have also booked Mulani for rash driving. The travel company is not directly responsible for the accident, but we not yet arrested any of its managers. We are awaiting the report of the RTO to verify Siddiqui’s claims of his steering becoming jammed upon impact,” Burande said.