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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

45 killed as speeding Volvo coach hits culvert, catches fire near Hyd

Mahbubnagar (AP): A Hyderabad-bound Volvo coach from Bangalore caught fire, killing 45 passengers trapped inside early on Wednesday, after the bus crashed into a culvert at high speed causing the fuel tank to explode. The jammed central locking system prevented people from escaping. 

    The horrific accident took place near Palem, about 140-km from Hyderabad, after the bus hit a culvert when its front wheels burst while overtaking acar at high speed. The fuel tank exploded on impact gutting the bus in minutes. 
    Among those killed were five techies who were returning to Hyderabad to be with th
eir families on Diwali. A couple who planned to celebrate their anniversary in the city, and a techie on his way to meet his newborn were among the dead. 
    Most passengers of the Jabbar Travels bus, who were woken up by the fuel tank blast at 5am, tried in vain to get out of the vehicle. The central lock ensured that only seven got out while the rest, including two babies, died a gruesome death, witnesses said. 
'Overloaded' bus had violated rules earlier 
Mahbubnagar (AP): The fire from the fuel tank explosion in the Hyderabad-bound bus swiftly spread across the airconditioning duct containing neon gas and engulfed the Volvo bus within minutes killing 45 passengers. 
    "The bodies had been reduced to ashes and there was only stench of burnt bodies everywhere," said a local witness. 
    One survivor said he saw passengers scurrying towards the exit only to find the front door bolted. "I broke open the glass window and jumped out and fainted within seconds," Srikar, a survivor told TOI later at a Hyderabad hospital. Before help arrived, six others, whose clothes had also caught fire, jumped out of the driver's seat, but it was too late for the others. 

    "He called us at 8pm on Tuesday and said he was boarding the bus. We were so happy that he is coming home. Hearing of the accident today morning, we tried calling him but there was no response," said Rakesh Singh, a relative of Akshay Singh, who died in the accident. Forensic experts said in the luggage space, several bags of human hair, flower bouquets and bags of maize were stowed and this acted as a catalyst. 
    A large police force and rescuers had a tough time retrieving the bodies because of the intense heat after the accident. By 
afternoon all the charred bodies were retrieved. 
    Trouble broke out after 14 families who arrived at the spot to claim the bodies of their kin were made to wait by the police, who said bodies would be handed over only after a forensic test was carried out in Hyderabad. 
    Authorities said the bus, which has a seating capacity of 43, had 50 passengers on board, apart from the driver and the cleaner. Though 33 passengers had booked their tickets online, some more got in later. 
    Karnataka transport minister Ramalinga Reddy said the 
driver, Feroze, had called the owner at 3.45 am to complain that he was facing some problems with one of the front tyres. 
    "Before it could be fixed, the accident occurred. Only a thorough investigation will reveal what exactly happened," he said. Those who escaped the mishap were driver Feroze, helper Fayaz and five of the passengers — Madpasha, Yogesh, Rajesh, Jai Singh and Srikar, who sustained 10-15 % burns. 
    The condition of Yogesh, who sustained 40% burns, was critical, while the driver and the cleaner are in police custo
dy after a brief medical care. 
    Former Andhra Pradesh minister J C Diwakar Reddy's brother, J C Prabhakar Reddy, who came to the accident spot, said they had sold the bus to Jabbar Travels, Hyderabad, in 2010. Transport department officials said the bus has a fitness validity till October 6, 2014. 
    District collector M Girija Shankar said the doors and the emergency windows openings were also automatically locked. He said the bus had been seized earlier for some violations, pertaining to the permit. 

HOW IT HAPPENED? 

The Volvo bus was about 128 km away from Hyderabad; was carrying 50 passengers. 
Bus was speeding across expressway at over 100 kmph as driver was under pressure to reach city before 7.30 am 
While overtaking another car, 
one of the front wheels burst after it hit a culvert; driver lost control 
Fuel tank exploded due to impact and fire rapidly spread through air-conditioning duct 
Neon gas in AC duct aggravated situation 
Flower bouquets, bags of maize and human hair, lodged in luggage space, also acted as catalyst for fire 
Driver jumped out of vehicle along with six others, but in his hurry forgot to release central locking system, trapping all passengers inside 
One passenger escaped by breaking open the emergency door 

WHO ALL DIED? 

    Forty five passengers 
killed in mishap 

    Most deceased hailed from Hyderabad; were returning to city either for Diwali break or work 

    At least 
five among dead were techies 

    Two babies seated towards the front died in the blaze 

    Many were 
traders coming to Hyderabad for festival or business 

    Daughter of a district judge of AP also among dead 
(With Team TOI inputs)

Flames engulfed the bus within minutes as its fuel tank exploded


DANCE OF DEATH: The ill-fated Volvo bus up in flames at Palem village in Mahbubnagar

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