Bolpur, April 29: Twelve persons were killed and 85 injured this morning when a speeding, overcrowded bus spun out of control at a sharp bend, overturning and tumbling down into paddy fields at Siandanga in Bolpur, 195 km from Calcutta.
Four persons were killed on the spot and eight victims succumbed either on the way to hospital or after reaching it. The condition of about 45 persons, admitted in the Bolpur subdivisional hospital, is said to be critical. Twenty others have been referred to the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital.
Police said most of those killed or injured in the accident that took place a little before 8 am were travelling on the roof of the bus, ironically named Durbar Gati, which roughly translates into “reckless pace”. The bus, on its way to Asansol from Salar, was carrying about 110 passengers, of whom about 20 were packed on the roof and several clung to the ladder at the rear.
The driver was speeding apparently to make up time as he was running behind schedule. Police superintendent Akhil Roy said the driver is absconding and the bus has been seized.
“I got into the bus from Datina and found it difficult to breathe inside because of the crowd. Near Bolpur, the driver suddenly lost control while negotiating a sharp bend. The bus overturned and rolled twice before coming to a stop in the paddy fields,” said Subrata Mondal, owner of a medicine shop in Bolpur who survived with head injuries.
“Everybody was trying to get out of the bus after it stopped in the field. Cries for help went unheard and injured people went unnoticed as passengers with lesser injuries tried to force their way out of the mangled doors and windows,” added Mondal.
Villagers rushed to the passengers’ aid and sent a message to the Bolpur hospital, 10 km from the spot, through a person passing by in a motorcycle. A bus was later stopped and the injured were taken to the hospital in it.
The hospital authorities set up a team of 15 doctors as the victims came in and put up a list of the injured on the notice board for the worried relatives who began arriving as soon as news of the accident spread.
District officials, including superintendent Roy, sabhadhipati Manasa Hansda and chief medical officer of health Shyamapada Basak visited the site of the mishap and the hospital. CPM candidate from Bolpur Somnath Chatterjee and his Nationalist Trinamul Congress rival Nirmal Maji also visited the hospital.
Among those killed were Biswanath Thander, 30, Nurul Haque, 44, Ahad Sheikh, 46, Sobur Sheikh, 21, Badahi Sheikh, 28, Sadhu Ghosh, 35, Baidyanath Maji, 36, Arif Sheikh, 28, Aloka Das, 55, Shibu Das, 40, Sanyasi Das, 35, and Rupol Saha, 28.