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Mishap blame on driver

- Drunk man at the bus wheel caused accident on August 8

Agartala, Aug. 17: Tripura government officials probing the August 8 accident at Tangseng under Khliehriat district of Meghalaya have attributed the cause for the mishap to overloading, an inebriated bus driver and lack of infrastructure at the spot that impeded rescue efforts.

Thirty-one passengers died in the accident.

The officials, led by Dhalai district magistrate Abhishek Chandra, said in the report that the accident site was straight out of James Hadley Chase’s The Vulture is a Patient Bird. Only here, human vultures had robbed the dead.

“Of the 31 passengers, 16 were from Tripura and five of them could not be identified; we shuddered to find out that all the identity cards, money bags and all other identification marks and movable assets had been removed carefully,” said Chandra, who had visited the spot with a team of two doctors, two nurses and a district transport officer.

“It seemed human vultures had at once swooped on the bus and, instead of rescuing dying passengers, they set about robbing them of all possessions, including identity cards; in one case, the body of a particular passenger was badly mutilated by the miscreants to take out everything from his pockets,” said Chandra.

Regarding his findings on the spot and the reasons for the accident, Chandra said the bus belonging to Agartala-based Sherokwali Travels had a seating capacity for 30 passnegers but had on board more than 56 people with 16 sitting on stools on the middle corridor of the bus.

“Driver Dhanu Ghosh was drunk and the accident happened because of his fault; he was later examined by DDRC hospital and certified completely drunk,” said Chandra, adding that he should be booked on murder charges for his lapses. He is still undergoing treatment in G.B. Hospital, Agartala.

Chandra also said the spot where the accident had taken place is without any good health or other administrative infrastructure.

“Actually, the new district Khliehriat had been carved out of East Janitia Hills only four days before the accident and as such there was no infrastructure support to help the injured persons; if we had chopper service readily available, four more injured persons could have been saved,” Chandra said in his report to the chief secretary and transport secretary.

He has also made important recommendations: the names, addresses, mobile numbers, photographs of passengers who book tickets on inter-state buses should be maintained by travel agencies plying buses. Besides, Chandra has called for major improvements in renovation and maintenance of the national highway between Agartala and Guwahati by the GREF or other central agencies.

Tripura government officials, led by Dhalai district magistrate Abhishek Chandra, in their report investigating the August 8 accident at Tangseng under newly created Khliehriat district of Mehgalaya,