Bhubaneswar, Aug. 13: Minati Dutta had little inkling of what was to come when she boarded a tourist bus in Puri with her husband Sibabrata and 21-year-old son Ratnaditya.
The 57-year-old resident of Mekhligunge in Bengal’s Cooch Behar district was killed when the bus hurtled downhill near Dhauli hills. The bus, whose brakes had failed, crashed against stones near the foothills of Dhauli around 1pm today.
Thirty-eight passengers were injured, nine of them seriously. They are being treated at the Capital Hospital here.
The tourist bus in which Minati and 53 others were heading to Bhubaneswar started out from Puri at 7am, reaching Konark an hour later.
The tourists had barely finished seeing the Buddhist peace pagoda at Dhauli when driver Ashok Kumar Das entered his cabin to start the bus.
The bus began to roll downhill and as Das slammed on the brakes, he found they were not working. He grappled with the steering wheel in an attempt to halt the bus, but it hurtled into a swamp near the Ashokan rock edicts.
Minati, who suffered serious head injuries, died in hospital as her injured husband lay unconscious.
There were 40 tourists from Bengal on the bus.
Anaesthetist Swapan Kumar Das, a Calcuttan settled in Bologna, Italy, had come to Puri yesterday with his wife Kakoli, 22. “My wife and I were seated near the main door when the bus started rolling off the hill. Nobody knew what was happening as the driver struggled to control the bus. But it was futile,” said Swapan. His wife fractured her left arm in the mishap.