Two passengers died on the spot and 16 were injured when a private bus on route 30C, racing another private bus on Tuesday afternoon, turned turtle after hitting the median rails near Lake Town footbridge on VIP Road.
The other bus engaged in the race, on route 12C/2, also toppled barely 200 metres away in an action replay of the first accident. Both rogue drivers managed to flee.
“The accident took place around 3.30 pm. It was a clear case of reckless driving. The speeding buses were trying to overtake each other. The driver of the first bus lost control and rammed into the road divider and overturned. A conductor (28) and a woman (20) were killed on the spot,” said an officer of Lake Town police station.
“The other bus sped along but rammed into the rails just after crossing the footbridge and turned turtle in the middle of the road,” he added.
The bus on route 30C was coming from Hatiara and going to Babughat, while the 12C/2 bus was Howrah-bound.
Labourers working at a highrise construction site close by were the first to launch rescue operations. Armed with shovel and rods, they smashed open the windows and windscreen of the first bus to drag the passengers out.
Then, the other bus toppled and the same group of saviours rushed there.
After 15 minutes, a police team arrived and took the two bodies to RG Kar Medical College and Hospital.
Anjan Das, among the first to arrive at the accident site, said: “People were trapped inside, writhing and screaming. We had to break open a window with a shovel to rescue an elderly couple. They were too shocked to react.”
Atanu Das, another rescuer, added: “We smashed the windscreen and found a little boy stuck between two seats, bleeding from the nose. His parents were lying unconscious. We brought them out and took them to a nearby nursing home, where their condition is stable.”
There were no casualties in the 12C/2 bus mishap.
There were around 25-30 passengers in each bus. The injured were taken to RG Kar Medical College and Hospital in three ambulances, where those who sustained minor injuries were treated and discharged, police said.
Traffic on the vital airport link road came to a stop for over an hour. Normalcy was restored around 4.30 pm, after a crane towed away both the buses.