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Three dead in bus and car crash

Chandrani Saha (head bandaged) with daughter Sharmistha at NRS Medical College on Friday evening. (Right) The Sahas’ car and the minibus that hit it. Pictures by Pradip Sanyal

A father returning home after fetching his daughter from school died of cardiac arrest when a bus trying to overtake another collided head-on with his car before turning on its side, killing two other passengers.

The accident occurred at Sarkar Bazar on Beleghata Main Road around 5.30pm, when a packed minibus on the Salt Lake-Howrah route jumped lanes to overtake another bus and crashed into a Maruti Swift coming from the opposite direction.

Bijoy Nanda Saha, 42, was in front beside the driver and died of cardiac arrest triggered by shock, doctors at NRS Medical College and Hospital said.

His wife Chandrani, 15-year-old daughter Sarmistha and driver Haru Pal escaped with minor injuries.

The bus passengers who died were Pradip Guray, 46, a fish seller headed for the Sealdah market, and Mohammed Salauddin, 38, who had boarded the bus at Phoolbagan. The two of them were declared dead on arrival at NRS hospital. Many others were injured in the collision.

“We treated 28 people. Five women were discharged after first-aid,” a doctor at the hospital said.

A family friend said Bijoy and his wife had gone to their daughter’s school in Pailan on Friday at her insistence. “Usually, she would return from school by another car. On Friday, she had insisted that her parents come and fetch her.”

According to a relative, Sarmistha, a student of Pailan World School, blames herself for her father’s death. “On other days, Sarmistha comes home by pool car. On Friday, she wanted her parents to get her home in their new car, which they had bought only last month.”

Bijoy, a businessman based in Berhampore, would spend a few days every week in Calcutta since his daughter is studying in the city.

He and his family were returning to their apartment in Baguiati when tragedy struck. They were to leave for Murshidabad by train on Saturday morning.

“In trying to overtake another bus, the minibus involved in the collision switched to the right lane at such speed that it couldn’t avoid ramming into the Swift coming from the opposite side. The driver of the Swift slammed the brakes but the bus driver couldn’t stop,” recounted Minu Mazumder, who witnessed the accident.

Minu, who owns a garments shop in that area, accompanied some of the injured to the hospital.

The Swift crashed into a wall some metres away and turned sideways, trapping the four passengers inside, while the minibus turned on its left side.

Some residents of the area shattered the windshield of the mini bus to rescue the passengers and took them to NRS hospital in taxis, autos and police ambulances.

Car driver Haru fractured his right arm while Chandrani and daughter Sarmistha, seated in the rear, had minor hand and forehead injuries.

The police found Bijoy unconscious with his seatbelt still clamped. Barring bruises on his hands, he had no external injury. He was declared dead in hospital.

“Doctors who examined him told us that he possibly died of cardiac arrest. We have sent his body for post-mortem to confirm the cause of death,” an officer at Beleghata police station said.

The two other victims — Pradip and Salauddin — had lost a lot of blood, doctors said.

The police have seized the minibus involved in the head-on collision but the driver and the conductors are absconding.