Seven men riding motorbikes were critically injured after being hit by a minibus from behind while they were waiting at a signal at the Mayo Road and Dufferin Road crossing in central Kolkata on Tuesday evening, police said.
The two-wheelers were heavily damaged and the persons riding them were flung off under the impact of the collision which occurred around 7.15pm, the police said.
The injured were taken to SSKM Hospital.
According to the doctors at the hospital, their conditions were critical with most of them receiving injuries on the head and chest, legs and arms.
The bus came to a halt after hitting a yellow taxi from behind, while the cab was taking a turn at the intersection, the police said.
The taxi, too, was damaged and the driver was injured. “The taxi driver did not need hospitalisation,” a police officer said.
The minibus — of Santoshpur-BBD Bag route — was on its way towards Esplanade.
The bus driver jumped out of the cabin after the accident and managed to run away, the police said.
“We could not get hold of the driver. It is still not clear whether he had dozed off while driving or the bus had developed a technical snag all too sudden,” said a senior police officer.
“The minibus will undergo a test on Wednesday,” the officer said.
Those admitted to the SSKM Hospital’s trauma care unit were aged between mid-30s and late-40s and all of them were wearing helmets at the time of the accident, the police said.
A few who were able to speak told the police that they were returning home after office.
According to bystanders, if the minibus had hit the two-wheelers at a higher speed, all the injured would have died on the spot.
“After officers reached the spot they found the injured mein lying on the road with a few under their two-wheelers, unable to move. Most of them were groaning in pain,” the officer said.
Eyewitnesses told police that the minibus was moderately crowded with peak evening-hour passengers and immediately after it hit the motorcyclists, some of the passengers, including a few women, started screaming and crying.
They had thought that the bus’s brakes were malfunctioning and the vehicle would possibly ram into another bus, killing them.
Soon after the minibus came to a halt after hitting the taxi, some of the passengers jumped out of the vehicle, panic-struck.
Officers on duty at the intersection immediately informed the police control and the traffic guard.
The spot was cordoned off to allow other vehicles to pass slowly down the Mayo Road.
Ambulances were arranged and wreckers were called in to remove the minibus and the taxi from the spot.