20 killed in Tamil Nadu after truck rams into bus
At least 20 passengers were killed when a speeding container truck entered the wrong lane (and the wrong side) and collided head-on with a Thiruvananthapuram-bound Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus carrying 48 people at Avinashi in Tamil Nadu’s Tirupur district on Thursday
“It was a high-speed collision. The truck lost control. We do not know if the driver dozed off or the tyre burst. The truck entered the wrong lane and crashed into the KSRTC bus coming from the opposite direction,” said Palakkad (Kerala) police superintendent Siva Vikram. He added the bus was on its way to Thiruvananthapuram from Bengaluru.
Among the dead, 18 were from Kerala and one from Karnataka, police said, adding that one of the bodies remained to be identified. The truck’s driver, Hemraj, has surrendered to the Tamil Nadu police.
Survivors said both vehicles were speeding and that rescuers had to break open the badly mangled bus to rescue the injured. “I was half asleep when the accident took place. I heard a deafening sound and was thrown to the front. It was a close shave for me. A woman, who was sitting ahead of me, was among the dead,” said A Santhosh, who escaped with minor injuries.
Another passenger, G Alan, said he was in a state of shock. “A strong Volvo bus was mangled in no time. Many passengers trapped inside the bus were crying out for help. I was stuck between the mangled seats.” He added the bus’s right side was completely damaged. “...the container was detached from the truck and fell on the bus.”
Ann Mary, a student, said she was saved as she had shifted to another seat on the left side. “The person, who occupied my seat, is among the dead.”
The injured have been admitted to hospitals in Tirupur while some have been referred to Coimbatore. Most of the passengers are from Kerala’s Palakkad, Thrissur and Ernakulam districts.
Karishma, who was on her way to Ernakulam, said she was seated on the left side of the bus and was sleeping when the truck rammed into the bus. Her co-passenger, Jemin George said he suffered a cut and required 10 stitches. Another passenger claimed the truck was overloaded.
The bus’s conductor and driver, V D Girish and V R Baiju, were among those killed in the accident that came on the day the KSRTC was celebrating the 82nd year of its founding. The erstwhile king of Travancore, Sree Chithirathirunal Balarama Varma, inaugurated the bus service on February 20, 1938.
The KSRTC had honoured Girish and Baiju for rushing a woman passenger, who had taken ill during a journey to Bengaluru from Ernakulam, to a hospital in June 2018.
A statement from Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office said he rushed his cabinet colleagues, A K Saseendran and V S Sunilkumar, to Tamil Nadu to coordinate relief operations and directed the Palakkad district collector to take necessary steps to provide medical aid to the injured and bring back the bodies. It added that Kerala officials were in touch with the Tirupur district administration. Vijayan also ordered a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each for the kin of those killed in the accident.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his anguish over the accident. “Extremely anguished by the bus accident ... In this hour of grief, my thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families. I hope those who are injured recover at the earliest,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a Tweet quoting Modi.