Riya Gupte’s (11), who suffered 60 per cent burns when a private bus ferrying schoolchildren caught fire on the Sion-Panvel Highway in Navi Mumbai on August 20, died on Tuesday.
The toll has now risen to four. The Class 5 student of Changu Kana Thakur School in New Panvel was being treated at Masina Hospital, Byculla.
“She was recovering but since her burns were extensive she wasn’t out of danger,” said Dr Arvind Vartak, who was monitoring her. “It was shocking because we were positive that she would make it. The infection spread in her blood and her system collapsed.”
Kaustubh Puranik (10), another patient in Masina, is still recovering. He has 40 per cent burns.
“Adults are capable of handling burns better than children. If a child suffers more than 20 to 30 per cent burns, the situation becomes dangerous,” said Dr Pawan Jadhav.
Riya’s father Paritosh Gupte, who works at JNPT, mother and brother were inconsolable as they brought her body to their Guruvatika Society residence in Panvel. She was cremated at Amardham, which is located opposite the spot where the bus caught fire.
Vivek Patil, whose daughter Jhanvi (8) was among the survivors, said: “We now send our child to school by car. The other parents have hired autorickshaws. It is risky, but there is no other option till the school makes some bus arrangement.”
The school claims to have spent over Rs 30 lakh for the children’s treatment “on humanitarian grounds”.
“Though it was not our bus, we decided to bear the expenses as they belonged to our school,” said former MP Ramseth Thakur, also the chairman of the school. “We run seven buses and plan to add a few more after getting RTO permission. Next year, we plan to admit students residing within a radius of 5 km from the school.”
The forensic lab report on the cause of the fire is still awaited. Senior inspector Suresh Bhosle said: “It usually takes three months for the report. We have sent three reminders to the lab to speed up the process.”