Hyderabad, June 16: Eleven Tata Consultancy Services trainees, fresh out of engineering college, were among 30 pilgrims killed as the bus carrying them from Hyderabad to Shirdi fell 30 feet onto a dry riverbed early this morning.
A group of 12 TCS trainees was travelling on the bus “on a thanksgiving trip to Bhagwan Saibaba after they got their jobs with TCS three months ago”, said Sushma, a relative of trainees Anitha and Dipti who are among the dead.
Some of the 16 survivors — at least six of whom are seriously injured — alleged that the driver was drunk and had twice before narrowly missed crashing the Volvo, operated by a private transport agency.
|The bus at the accident site near Osmanabad on Saturday.
Picture by G Vijayalakshmi
The bus had set off from Hyderabad last evening carrying 42 passengers — including eight female and four male TCS trainees — the driver, a cleaner and two standby drivers.
Most of the passengers were asleep when the Volvo skidded off a culvert about 260km into the journey, near Naldurg in Maharashtra’s Osmanabad district.
“All the 12 trainees had been recruited from their campuses,” said Nayeem, the HR spokesperson for TCS. “They all would have become full-timers within a month. Four of them had been tipped for overseas assignments.”
All the dead were passengers and included 16 women. The accident orphaned three-year-old Sai Teja, killing all five members of his family travelling with him. The boy has been handed over to an elderly relative.
Sources said that apart from one of the standby drivers, the remaining 15 survivors suffered injuries and had been admitted to a hospital in Sholapur, a Maharashtra town near the accident site.
A PTI report identified the driver as G. Yadgir and the travel agency as Sree Kaleswari Travels of Hyderabad, and cited the time of the accident as 2.40am.
It quoted a young woman passenger, who is injured, as saying: “We were sleeping.... Suddenly I heard a big sound. When I opened my eyes, I found it was dark. Somehow, I managed to come out of the bus and went towards the road shouting for help, but no one stopped. It was only after an hour that a bus stopped and with their help we reached the local police station. By that time it was around 5am.”
The passengers were mostly from Andhra Pradesh.
Chief minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy has requested his Maharashtra counterpart to facilitate the treatment of the injured. He has ordered stringent action against all private travel agencies that operate pilgrim packages without proper infrastructure.
However, no complaints of any lapses other than the driver’s alleged drunkenness have so far been received in this particular instance.
TCS has set up a round-the-clock helpdesk to assist the relatives of the trainees who were on the bus. A company spokesperson said two teams from Hyderabad and Pune had been sent to Sholapur to confirm the identities of the dead trainees and bring the lone survivor, a young man, back to Hyderabad.