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Delhi school bus catches fire, children on board evacuated just in time

The bus was on Vande Mataram Marg, nearly 10km from the school, when it caught fire. All 33 students on board were evacuated.

delhi Updated: Nov 01, 2017 10:04 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
School bus fire,Safety of children,Kendriya Vidyalaya
The bus was taking students towards south Delhi from Kendriya Vidyalaya number 3 in Delhi Cantonment.(Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

Thirty-three schoolchildren had a close shave when their bus caught fire near Dhaula Kuan as they were returning home from their school on Tuesday morning.

The children from Kendriya Vidyalaya 3 in southwest Delhi‘s Naraina were safely evacuated just in time after the driver reportedly noticed flames in the engine around 10 am.

For the next hour, the kids watched in horror from the roadside as firefighters used three fire tenders to douse the blaze.

Recalling the incident, driver Vijay Kumar Rawat said any delay in reacting could have led to a big tragedy.

“I saw smoke and blaze through the rear-view mirror when the bus reached near metro pillar no. 26 at Vande Mataram Marg, Dhaula Kuan. Sensing danger, I immediately applied the brakes and cautioned the students,” said Rawat. An onlooker informed the police about the fire.

Atul Garg, additional director of Delhi Fire Services, said they received a call informing about the fire around 10.10 am. By the time the firefighters reached with help, the children had been rescued but the fire had gutted the bus.

Garg said the fire had been doused by 11.20 am. Delhi Police, however, said that they were still unaware of the cause of the fire or where it might have started.

“No case has been registered yet but a probe is on. The cause of the fire is not known,” said DCP (southwest) Shibesh Singh.

A student, who spoke to HT after the incident, had a different version of what might have happened. He believed that the fire started in the front tyre on the right. “I raised an alarm and all my fellow students came out. The fire tenders arrived soon,” said Shiv Sundar Pal, a student of Class 10.

He said he lost his bag in the fire though the police said children had enough time to rush out with their belongings. “I asked the driver to get it back for me but he told me I should be glad that I survived,” said Pal.

The bus, hired by the parents, was taking the students towards south Delhi after their classes got over around 9.30 am. Kendriya Vidyalaya suspends classes early on the last day of every month. The students belonged to different classes and most of them aged less than 14 years, said a police officer.

Rawat said there was no conductor or teacher accompanying the students in the bus. Some parents, however, reached the spot later. School principal Pallavi Sharma also reached the spot, an investigator said.

When Hindustan Times called the school for a comment, the principal was unavailable. M.L. Bunkar, who identified himself as an in-charge at the school’s office, told HT on the phone that the bus did not belong to the school as they did not provide any transport facility to students.

CBSE rules make it mandatory for schools to ensure that a teacher accompanies children on buses operated by them. However, parents had hired a private bus for ferrying students in this case with no such safety arrangement.

First Published: Oct 31, 2017 14:46 IST