At least eight persons were charred to death when the mini-buses in which they were riding caught fire following head-on collision under Haat Gamharia police station area of Jharkhand West Singhbhum (Chaibasa) district Wednesday afternoon. More than 20 were injured. The police said that the drivers of the two buses were also believed to have died. However, identification was proving to be tough as the bodies were charred beyond recognition.
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Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das expressed condolences on the incident and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1 lakh each to the next of the kin of the deceased and Rs 20,000 each to the injured. He also directed Tata Main Hospital (TMH) in Jamshedpur to be on stand-by.
According to the police, two buses with names Maa Parvati and Tamanna written on them were moving in opposite directions when they collided in Haat Gamharia area around 3.30 p.m. One of the buses was reportedly coming from Odisha and going to Jamshedpur, while the other was moving towards Majgaon Block in Chaibasa. The police, however, said that the facts in this regard were in the process of being verified.
Immediately after the collision, it appears that there was a blast in the fuel tank of one of the buses and the fire that spread engulfed the other bus too. It happened very quickly. We rushed the fire brigade on the spot, along with a medical team. The fire has been doused and the traffic has now been resumed, said Chaibasa Superintendent of Police Michael S Raj.
Raj added: The bodies have been charred so badly that we have not able to ascertain how many women have died. Since it was the front portion of the two buses that were worst affected, we are suspecting the drivers of the two vehicles have also succumbed.
The SP added that there were around 20-25 passengers in each of the two vehicles, both of which were mini-buses.
The SP said that the road where the accident took place was curved and, it was possible that the drivers could not control their vehicles due to speed and collided. We have rushed the injured to the Sadar Hospital. So far, nobody has been rushed to TMH. Further probe is required to identify who were the owners of the buses and how exactly did the accident occur, he said.
According to official information received late evening, the total number of injured was 36 out of which at least 15 were referred to Tata Main Hospital and other hospitals in Jamshedpur district. Of the 36, the number of women injured was over 20. The Chaibasa administration also launched a helpline (06582-255164) for relatives seeking information about the accident. The toll, officials said, may rise, as the condition of some of the injured was said to be serious.