Youths carry an injured man to Hazaribagh sadar hospital on Friday. (Vishvendu Jaipuriar)
Hazaribagh, April 13: A mother managed to throw her infant out of a burning jeep to safety seconds before her death today afternoon, as the vehicle, carrying a marriage party, was gutted by a high-voltage wire. The accident killed six and injured 18 others at Karni, only 5km from Itkhori’s Ma Bhadrakali temple, where the wedding was to be solemnised.
More than 60 relatives of bridegroom Pramod Kumar of Nayitand village in Padma block, 32km from Hazaribagh district headquarters, had packed themselves inside two jeeps around 2.15pm today to head for the Itkhori temple in Chatra. Pramod was in a separate car.
While Pramod’s car and the first jeep went ahead smoothly, the second jeep with 31 relatives — which was trailing the first by just 500m — suddenly swerved out of control and crashed into a cement electric pole. As the pole collapsed, a 15,000-volt wire fell on the jeep, setting the vehicle ablaze in seconds.
Six persons, including the driver, were burnt to death while 18 others, including four children, were rescued by villagers out of the blazing death trap. . The six have been identified as Sundar Thakur, Suresh Thakur, Rajendra Thakur, Ganesh Thakur, Kailash Thakur and Reena Devi.
Five others, including Reena’s three-month-old infant girl, were completely unscathed. Reena had managed to throw her infant outside the jeep that was completely gutted.
“Yes, six persons of a marriage party have burnt to death at the accident, but 18 others were rescued. I thank villagers for their courage and presence of mind, otherwise the number of casualties would have increased,” said Chatra SP Anup Bir
The 18 injured were sent to Hazaribagh sadar hospital. Of them, eight-year-old Vikas Sao was deemed critical and sent to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences, Ranchi. “The others are out of danger now,” said Bir.
Gobardhan Ram, a constable of Chatra police, who had reached the spot, said: “Those who died were burnt beyond recognition.”
He added that villagers also informed the electricity department office in Itkhori that stopped power supply.
Meanwhile, a pall of gloom had descended on the survivors who had helplessly watched their relatives burn to a cinder.
Dilip Sharma (31) said he and his three-year-old daughter Roshni, both at the sadar hospital, were still to come out of the trauma. “As the jeep hit the pole, I felt electric shocks. I heard my daughter Roshni crying, but couldn’t help her. But my daughter and I were lucky that we were pulled out of the jeep by villagers who used bamboo and wooden poles to avoid electrocution,” he added.
Other members of the marriage party said that the mood of festivity changed into that of utter gloom. Radha Devi, a relative in the first jeep, said they were shocked beyond words when they heard about the mishap. “We had already reached the temple when we heard. Sabke sab hamare rishtedar the. Pura khushi ka mahaul gum mein badal gaya (They were all our relatives. The joyful mood changed into despair),” she added.
Hazaribagh MP Yashwant Sinha reached the hospital to express his condolences and asked doctors to give the best possible treatment to the injured.
On August 12 last year, five passengers, including two women, died when high-voltage overhead cables came in contact with their bus on NH-33 at Bonga, about 2km from Hazaribagh.