April 22, 2015 12:00:05 am
At least seven passengers were charred to death and another nine sustained burn injuries after a Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) bus — on way to Allahabad from Faizabad — caught fire in Amethi district on Tuesday morning.
Officials said the prima facie cause behind the fire was a leaking LPG cylinder that suddenly caught fire near Ramganj village in Amethi on the Sultanpur-Pratapgarh road around 9.40 am.
UPSRTC Managing Director Mukesh Kumar Meshram said it has been established that a student was travelling with a 5-kg LPG cylinder in the bus that was carrying 42 passengers.
“The cylinder was negligently kept near the bonnet and the engine… Officials who visited the accident site found that the cylinder was empty and burnt. So, it is suspected that gas had leaked from the cylinder, leading to a sudden fire after there were some sparks in the engine,” he added.
“The UPSRTC’s Faizabad division service manager Santosh Kumar has been suspended for negligence as it appears that technical faults in the engine lead to the sparking,” Meshram said, adding that the contract of the driver has been terminated and the bus conductor suspended.
Officials said those killed did not have the time to escape as they were engulfed by fire all of a sudden. Those who managed to do so, did so through the main door. “Those who died were sitting at the rear end of the bus… It appears they could not escape in the commotion after the accident,” said Amethi District Magistrate Jagat Raj.
He added that seven bodies have been recovered and the administration was trying to identify them. “Among the nine injured persons who were rushed to Sultanpur and Pratapgarh for treatment, five have been referred to Lucknow,” said Raj.
“We have recovered seven completely charred bodies along with a few body parts,” said Amethi ASP Munna Lal, hinting that the number of dead could be more. “The bus had only one gate at the front… All tried to escape from that causing commotion. Some also jumped out from the windows… The driver fled after the accident,” he added.
Chief Minister Akilesh Yadav announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the family of the deceased, Rs 1 lakh each to the seriously injured and Rs 50,000 to each passenger who suffered minor burns. State Transport Minister Durga Prasad visited the accident spot in the evening.
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