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Brake-less bus runs berserk

Calcutta, Jan. 20: A state bus with defective brakes ploughed into nine stationary vehicles as it hurtled down Bijon Setu this morning, killing two persons on the spot and turning the Gariahat-bound traffic into a mangled mass of flesh and twisted metal.

An unfazed transport minister said accidents, though sad, are bound to happen.

“Even spacecraft meet with accidents. The twin towers (of the World Trade Center) met with the same fate. Even the ceiling under which we are sitting might cave in,” Subhas Chakraborty said but added that he has ordered a probe.

The accident occurred around 8.45, when the rush-hour traffic at the busy intersection of Rashbehari Avenue, Ekdalia Road and Cornfield Road was waiting for the signal to turn green.

The area was crowded with office-goers and schoolchildren when the CSTC bus on route GL-3 charged down the bridge. Its brake drum came out as it crushed a motorcyclist, bulldozed a Fiat and rammed into a Maruti Zen before hitting another motorcyclist, who escaped with minor injuries.

As stunned witnesses watched, the four vehicles in turn collided with seven others. Before grinding to a halt, the bus also hit a parked Maruti 800, three Ambassadors and another Fiat.

Investigating officer Kalyan Bhanja said the first Fiat turned into pulp. Its 42-year-old driver, Bhajan Dutta, a resident of Swinhoe Lane, was killed on the spot. So was Panditiya Place resident Pradip Nath, the 35-year-old motorcyclist the bus hit first. At least six people were injured. Police said all the injured persons were either drivers or passengers of the vehicles the bus crashed into.

Arindam Sanyal, a passenger on the killer bus, said it “faltered several times” after he boarded it. Soon after the incident, a mob of about 6,000 people went on the rampage, stoning a state bus and the parked motorcycle of a traffic sergeant.

“There was no traffic sergeant at that time and only a couple of constables were tackling the rush,” said Mihir Khastagir, an eyewitness.

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