BANGALORE: At least 30 people, including 10 children, were burnt alive on Sunday when a bus bound for the southern Indian city of Bangalore ploughed into a roadblock and caught fire, police said.
The state-owned vehicle veered off a small bridge after colliding with the roadblock in the dark and fell into a ditch, local superintendent of police Labhu Ram told AFP from the accident site by phone.
“The bus caught fire when the diesel tank exploded on impact,” he said.
The bus had 64 passengers on board and was on its way from Surpur in southern Karnataka state to the IT hub of Bangalore, 600 kilometres away.
At least three surviving passengers were in serious condition.
State Transport Minister R Ashok, who visited the accident site, told reporters that preliminary reports suggested the driver was at fault.
“Negligent driving is suspected to have caused the accident as the bus was speeding and hit a road barrier on the bridge and skidded into the ditch,” Ashok said.
Police had registered a case against the driver, who survived the accident, Ram added.
Meanwhile, North-Eastern Transport Corporation has announced compensation of Rs 250,000 for each of the families of the deceased. Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has also announced Rs 100,000 compensation.
State Home Minister Dr V S Acharya, said that an investigation has begun into the causes of the mishap, in which the driver and conductor have managed to escape.
He said there were two drivers and a conductor. A search for them has started, he said, adding, that the drivers have been identified as Siddaswamy and Shetty and the conductor as Nandagowda.
India has the highest annual road death toll in the world, bigger than the more populous China, according to the World Health Organization, with accidents caused by speeding, bad roads, overcrowding and poor vehicle maintenance.
Police figures show that nationwide more than 110,000 people die annually on the roads.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 31st, 2010.