BHOPAL/PANNA : In all 21 passengers were charred to death and thirteen sustained burn injuries when the private bus they were travelling in fell into a culvert and caught fire on Monday afternoon at Malda Ghati, nearly 13 kms from the Panna district headquarters.

About 34 passengers had boarded the Anup Travels bus, which left Chhattarpur for Satna at around 12.45 pm. The accident took place near Pandav fall, close to Panna Tiger Reserve. The diesel tank of the bus exploded after it skidded off a bridge and fell 15 feet down into a culvert. The resultant fire gutted the bus completely.

The bus fell with its main gate facing the ground making it impossible for the passengers to come out. Only thirteen passengers could manage to escape by breaking open the windscreen, while the rest were charred to death as fire engulfed the bus. The forest guards at the Pandav Falls and some tourist spotted the bus on fire and rushed for help , but they could not do much as the flames were leaping into the sky. The 13 injured were rushed to the District Hospital Panna. Of them, two who had sustained serious injuries were referred to Rewa Medical College. All 21 charred bodies were pulled out from the bus.

The Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has ordered magisterial probe into the accident and announced financial help of Rs 2 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000 to the seriously injured and the injured victims, respectively. The Chief Minister has also directed that DNA test should be conducted to identify the deceased as the bodies have been charred beyond recognition.

The Transport Minister has announced a separate enquiry by the Transport Commissioner.

Driver’s negligence led to accident: Mahdale

PHE Minister Kusum Mahedele, who had visited the accident site, while talking to ‘Free Press’ said as per the injured passengers the bus driver was driving it at a very high speed and did not listen to them when they had asked him to slow down.The condition and fitness of the bus was good but driver’s negligence led to fatal accident, the minister said.

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