The private bus was on its way from Nagpur to Pune when it rammed into a divider around 1.30 am at Pimpalkhuta village near Sindkhedraja in Buldhana, around 134 km from here, they said. Eight others, including the bus driver and its cleaner, survived the tragedy as they managed to come out of the burning vehicle through broken windows, the police said, adding that the driver was being interrogated and the process of arresting him was underway.
Talking to PTI, Buldhana Superintendent of Police Sunil Kadasne said, "There were 33 passengers in the bus, of whom 25 were charred to death. The other eight passengers were taken to a nearby hospital and are safe." A tyre burst could not have caused Saturday's bus accident on Samruddhi Expressway, in which 25 persons were charred to death, as there were no pieces of rubber or tyre markings at the scene, the Amravati Regional Transport Office (RTO) stated in its report. The RTO report, which was based on survivors' accounts, said there was no evidence (rubber pieces of tyres after burst) or tyre markings at the spot, and the impact marking was on the wheel disc, which was bent, and not on the tyre itself.
One of the survivors of the ill-fated bus that caught fire and led to the death of 25 passengers in Maharashtra's Buldhana district on Saturday, said he and a few others managed to come out of the burning vehicle by breaking its rear window. A local resident, who rushed to the site, said the people who could come out of the bus later told him that they sought help from other vehicles on the highway, but nobody stopped.
The private passenger bus was less than four years old, an official of the state transport department said. Additional Transport Commissioner J B Patil, who is also chief of the Maharashtra Road Safety Cell, told PTI that the Regional Transport Officer of Amravati RTO already reached the accident site and by this evening the department will submit its primary probe report about the accident after inspection of the bus and the location.
Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday expressed grief over the loss of lives in a bus tragedy in Maharashtra's Buldhana, and targeted the Eknath Shinde-led government for "not doing anything" to stop accidents on the Samruddhi Expressway where it occurred. In a statement, Thackeray said the Buldhana accident should open the government's eyes as more than 300 people have lost their lives on the expressway since it was opened last year.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the 520-km-long Phase-1 of the Nagpur-Mumbai Samruddhi Mahamarg in December last year. Officially named as 'Hindu Hrudaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg', it is a pet project of Fadnavis. Ahead of its inauguration, CM Shinde had described the Samruddhi Expressway as gamechanger project with a potential to transform the state.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde ordered a probe into the accident and announced ex-gratia of Rs five lakh for the families of each deceased. Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the bodies of the deceased were charred beyond recognition and if the identity of the victims is not established, then DNA testing will be conducted.