On Thursday night, a Bhagwat Travels bus hailed passengers from Kuthaund bus stand and left for Delhi. A few hours later, the lives of many inside it were turned upside down.
Around 5 am, 14-year-old Nihaal was fast asleep next to his parents in a sleeper cabin, fifth in row from the front. His parents had bought the tickets for Rs 600. “I had briefly opened my eyes at 5 am and was about to doze off again when the bus shook. It felt like an earthquake,” he recalled, lying down on the general ward bed in Jewar’s Kailash Hospital.
His father Sudhir Kumar, a worker in Noida’s Lakhani factory, said: “My first instinct was to check up on my son. We were lucky that we were a little far from the front. Blood was splattered in the front… Later, we came to know that the bus had to be cut from front to recover the bodies.”
With Holi holidays just over, buses in the area had been offering discounts on tickets. This particular bus gave free tickets for children, making it a lucrative deal for families.
Inside the hospital, even as Suman (26) struggled to breathe through an oxygen mask, she kept asking for her husband Mangal, who battled for his life in the ICU one floor above. “We were returning to the city after work. He hit his head… I hope we are out of here soon,” she said.