Sept. 18: Nine persons were killed and more than 50 others injured when a packed mini bus overturned this morning in Purulia district.
The bus carrying about 70 passengers was headed to Brojonathpur from a village fair in Takaltore. The brakes of the vehicle had apparently failed and the driver lost control near Aimundi village in the Moffusil police station area, about 300 km from Calcutta.
Most of the passengers were said to be from Joypur in the district.
Rabiswar Soren, 25, Sudhir Marandi, 27, and Kalipada Hembram were killed on the spot. Sajay Sarkar, 22, Sudhir Besra, Suchand Kisku, 21, and Shaktipada Pal, 26, died at Purulia Sadar Hospital. Two bodies are yet to be identified.
The condition of a dozen among the injured was said to be critical.
Police said the bus was “awfully overcrowded” and when it overturned, those sitting on the roof were hurled on the road. Most of those who died were travelling on the roof and were crushed under the vehicle when it rolled over them.
Purulia superintendent of police Vineet Goel said a group of 63 tribals had gone to attend “chhata parob”, a local festival. All of them were in the bus.
Farmers working on the fields in Aimundi were the first to rush to the rescue after the bus overturned. They went inside through the windows and extricated the passengers. Passing vehicles were stopped and used to ferry the injured to hospital.
As the news spread, villagers from neighbouring areas flocked to the accident site — some out of curiosity but most to find out whether a relative or friend was among the victims.
The police used loudspeakers to describe the unidentified bodies in the neighbouring villages and in Joypur to have them identified.
The driver of the bus, however, managed to escape. The police have begun a case against him.
Preliminary inquiry revealed that the brake shoes of the bus were old. “It appears that the brake shoes were worn out and unable to grip the tyres when the driver slammed them suddenly,” said a police officer.
In a bid to avoid a pothole, the driver had apparently tried to swerve the speeding vehicle all of a sudden.
District magistrate B.P. Gopalika admitted that buses in the region often flout rules to carry as many passengers as possible. “We have instructed the district motor vehicles department to stop this menace of overcrowding immediately,” he said.