|The bus, which had overturned at least twice, soon after it was lifted with the help of a JCV machine
Thirty people from Andhra Pradesh were killed and left 16 injured when a private bus carrying devotees to Shirdi fell off a river bridge in Osmanabad district in central Maharashtra early on Saturday.
The deceased included 16 women. Three of the injured, who were shifted to Solapur Civil Hospital, are in a critical condition, the police said. The passengers were on their way to Saibaba Temple in Shirdi when the mishap occurred around 2.40 am near Naldurg town on the Hyderabad-Solapur highway, they said.
|An injured passenger being wheeled into an ambulance
An infant miraculously escaped unhurt while the bus driver was injured and is undergoing treatment. Osmanabad superintendent of police Dattatreya Karale confirmed the death of 30 persons.
The bus, owned by Hyderabadbased Shree Kaleshwari Travels, left for Shirdi on Friday evening with 43 passengers. “The driver lost control and the vehicle plunged from the bridge and hit the bed of the river, which has very little water,”said additional superintendent of police Ravindrasingh Pardeshi. “The bus overturned twice after it hit the ground nearly 25 feet from the bridge.
On a daily average, 366 deaths werereportedinroadaccidentsacross the country in 2010, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. The country also has the highest annual road death toll in the world, according to the World Health Organisation, with accidents caused by speeding, careless driving and poor roads.
Infant's Miraculous escape
Sai Jayant, a nine-month-old boy named after Sai Baba, was the only survivor among his family of eight who were on their way to Shirdi. The family was on its way to perform the boy’s first head-tonsuring ritual.
Besides, 14 techies –five of them women – who had just got jobs at Tata Consultancy Services through campus selection – were on the ill-fated bus. Five of them survived.
A few passengers who survived the accident said that the bus driver, Yadagiri, had consumed liquor at a wine shop while the bus was on the national highway.
According to them, the driver stopped the bus for about 10 minutes about 40 minutes after the dinner halt at Zaheerabad.
A lady doctor, who lost her husband who was also a doctor, and her mother-in-law also said she had seen the driver going to the liquor outlet.
Another woman passenger, who has been injured, also said that the driver was in an inebriated state. “Somehow, I managed to come out of the bus and went towards the road shouting for help, but no one stopped,” the woman claimed.
In Hyderabad, dozens of people gathered at the office of the bus operator. They complained that the operator had no details about the victims.
Chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy has directed officials of the transport department to take action against the private travel operator.
Case against bus operator
Meanwhile, a lawyer from Hyderabad, Arun Kumar, has filed a petition before the state human rights body seeking closure of Kaleswari Travels’ operations in the state.Thepanelhas called for a report from the transport department.