One person died and 20 students were injured — four of them seriously — in a road mishap at Ranihati, on the National Highway, on Thursday morning.
The private bus in which the students were travelling hit a Matador parked on the roadside. The Matador driver’s help, resting on the roof, fell to the ground and died on the spot. The driver of the Matador is absconding.
The bus overturned in the collision, injuring the 20 students. Hearing the crash, residents and bystanders rushed to the spot and rescued the trapped students. Howrah superintendent of police Rajesh Kumar said the students of Swaika Senior Secondary School, in Liluah, had hired the bus for the day.
“There were about 30 students and teachers in the bus. It was early morning and the road was clear,’’ Kumar said. “The driver was speeding along the highway when he lost control of the vehicle,’’ he added.
A police patrol was the first to reach the spot, followed by officers from the local police station. “We saw the bus overturn and slide down the highway. The trapped students were screaming for help,’’ said Sunil Das, of Ranihati bazaar, who was cycling with his friends when he saw the bus hit the Matador.
“We broke open the windows to extricate the students. Some of them were in a state of shock. A few local youths, too, joined in the rescue drive. Fortunately, except for a few, the injuries were not too grievous,’’ Das added.
The Matador help was rushed to a local health centre, from where he was shifted to Howrah General Hospital. Doctors said he had died on the spot. “The injured were admitted to the Howrah hospital and discharged after first-aid. Three students and a teacher have been kept back, since their injuries were slightly serious. A student, Mita Panja, was later shifted to SSKM Hospital as her condition turned critical,’’ Kumar said.
Witnesses blamed the Matador for Thursday’s accident. “The Matador was parked on the wrong side of the road. Vehicles behind it could not gauge whether it was stationary or moving,’’ said Saibal Halder, a bystander. “Besides, the road tapers because of the ongoing construction. The bus turned turtle because of this. Badly-maintained highways are responsible for a spurt in accidents,” he added.