Ambulance collision kills four
Truck hits vehicle, hospital employees charred
Behrampore: Four employees of a private hospital in Murshidabad's Behrampore, including an optometrist and a nurse, were charred to death when the ambulance they were travelling in collided with a truck on National Highway-34 and caught fire on Friday morning.
Those killed were identified as Ria Saha, 23, optometrist, Julekha Khatun, 20, a trainee nurse, Ratul Saha, 45, an employee, and Utpal Sarkar, 25, the driver who was also a hospital staffer. All worked at the Gitaram Hospital on the outskirts of Behrampore town and were going to Raghunathganj for a free eye-check up camp.
Co-owner of the hospital, Pankaj Chowdhury, said: "I am shocked. I had never imagined that I would have to lose them in this manner. We will stand by the bereaved families and extend any support they need."
A hospital official the ambulance had set off with the four around 10.30am. "They were on their way to Raghunathganj to attend the health camp. They had a head-on collision with a truck on NH-34 near Mathurapur village. Immediately after that, the ambulance caught fire and all the occupants were burnt to death," the official said.
Alam Biswas, a Mathurapur resident, said he was walking to his farm when he heard a loud crash. "I saw the ambulance ablaze and the truck driver step out and run away. I and many others ran to the ambulance but could not get near it because of the intense heat. I called up the fire station at Raghunathganj town," said Biswas.
Another eyewitness said they could not try to douse the fire immediately because there was no source of water nearby. Two fire tenders arrived from Raghunathganj, 8km away, after 25 minutes and put out the blaze. "One of the victims was still alive. She was pulled out by the fire brigade officials who broke the windows," the witness said. Ria Saha died on the way to Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital.
A police officer said the truck had been seized and a hunt was on for the driver.