In a nightmarish accident in the wee hours of Tuesday, 48 passengers were when their Volvo bus — on way to Delhi from Jammu — overturned after being hit by a speeding truck on the traffic signal, where the Airport road meets the Zirakpur-Rajpura highway.
The truck, coming from Banur, hit the bus on its rearside around 3am. More than 50 passengers were on board and most were sleeping. After the mishap, 32 passengers — most with minor injuries, cuts and abrasions — were rushed to the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, and six were rushed to the Advance Trauma Centre at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).
“It was a tourist bus that ferries passengers from Jammu to Delhi. We have registered a case against the unidentified truck driver on a complaint from Saroj Devi, a resident of Delhi, whose arm has been severed,” said assistant sub-inspector Narinder Singh of Zirakpur, who is the investigating officer. He added, “The truck driver failed to apply brakes resulting in the collision. The truck was loaded with LPG cylinders.” The police finally used a JCB machine to lift the overturned bus.
Of the patients admitted to the GMCH, 29 were discharged after first-aid with three having to be admitted. Dawayangzes (16), a girl, and Angmo 20) from Leh Ladakh required more treatment as did a 8-year-old boy Lakshay.
“Dawayangzes is admitted to the orthopaedics ward as she has an injury on her wrist and has been operated upon. Angmo had swelling in the limbs. She is stable, but is under observation. Lakshay has also been admitted to the orthopaedics department and is stable,” said Dr AK Janmeja, medical superintendent, GMCH-32.
9-month-old from Kashmir among injured
The split second that was it took for their bus to overturn during Tuesday’s accident has given Mohamad Atlaf, from Baramulla in Kashmir, pain to last a lifetime. On way to All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to get her nine-month-old daughter, Ridajan, operated upon for a hole in her heart, the infant was also injured in the accident.
“She has suffered injuries on her head and left leg, there is no fracture. Ridajan is out of danger, but she has a heart problem,” said a doctor. The surgery was scheduled for May 20.
Sitting next to her daughter’s bed in the Advanced Trauma Centre (ATC), wearing clothes soaked with blood stains, Mohamad Altaf says, “I was sitting on the top floor of the bus. Suddenly, I spotted the speeding truck hurtling towards the bus, also at a high speed. The bus driver tried to press the brakes; a second later, the bus overturned.”
“There was a bang and everything turned topsy-turvy. I fainted for a moment, but the thought of my nine-month-old baby who was also in the same bus was with me. I made my way to the top of the bus, broke open the window pane and jumped outside,” he added.
Atlaf and four other family members — wife (Kausar), mother-in-law (Mishra), daughter Rida and grandfather — were in the bus. He found his mother-in-law lying on the road in a semi-conscious stage. “I entered the first floor of the bus in search of my daughter and wife. I found my wife stuck in her seat with Ridajan in her lap and tried pulling them them out from the bus. It took me 10-15 minutes, but I managed to save both,” he added. Kausar has suffered minor injury on her arm, but his mother-in-law is critical. The ambulance and Police reached the spot in time and they were rushed to the PGI. “I saw a lady whose arm was severed from her body,” Altaf added.
This woman was identified as Saroj Devi (54), a resident of Delhi, who has been operated upon at the PGI.
Delhi residents murmur loot, but no police complaint
Archna (24), a computer teacher from Delhi was injured in his left foot and her cousin Deepak (15) was injured on the left eye. At the hospital, the duo told some mediapersons that their mobiles and `10,000 were looted by people who entered the bus on the pretext of helping them. However, in her statement to the police Archna failed to mention any such instance. Both have been discharged from the PGI as they wanted to undergo treatment in Delhi. The sixth patient, who reported to the PGI, Amit left the hospital against medical advice.