At least 13 people, including a child, were killed and 30 injured after a bus caught fire in Nashik around 5.15 am in morning on Saturday.
The bus caught fire after hitting a trailer truck transporting diesel on the Nashik-Aurangabad highway, said the police.
"The incident occurred early in the morning near Mirchi hotel junction of the highway. The accident took place when the bus from Chintamani travels, was going towards Mumbai, it collided with a trailer truck and due to the impact it caught fire. As of now there are 13 causalities and the injured have been shifted to the hospital for treatment. A case has been registered and investigation is on to ascertain the exact cause of the fire," said Jayant Naiknavare, Commissioner of Police, Nashik.
Videos showed a huge ball of fire engulfing the bus as the fire officials tried to douse the flames.
While speaking to FPJ, one of the victims, Lakhan Rathod 29, a mechanic who works at a garage in Borivali was travelling with his 9 year old nephew from Yavatmal where he had gone to celebrate dussera with his family. The incident took place when he was returning back to Mumbai. He and his nephew were fast asleep in one of the back seats of the bus when it collided with a truck carrying diesel and the front portion of the bus burst into flames.
“Me and my nephew woke up with a sudden jerk and saw people sitting in the front including the driver getting caught into huge flames. Everyone fell into a panic and were trying to escape, the locals outside who saw the incident started breaking the windows of the bus from outside. As soon as I saw a slight opening, I pushed my nephew out and then jumped outside myself. We sustained few injuries on our neck and legs due to the impact while jumping out of the window. We escaped within a matter of seconds because the fire was increasing and heading towards our seats,” he said.
Rathod and his nephew are currently receiving treatment at a civic run hospital in nashik along with other injured who were taken there after the accident.
Similarly, two senior citizens, victims of the same incident who were travelling from Kenwad (Washim district) to Mumbai, Ismail Shaikh, 75 and his sister Zaitoon Pathan, 73 also had a narrow escape by jumping outside through the window. The jump had a severe impact on Shaikh who fractured both his legs while Pathan injured one leg and fractured her hip.
Shaikh’s son Saleem said, “My father and my aunt both are undergoing surgery at a civic hospital in Nashik. It was a horrific incident however I am grateful that they survived but my heart felt condolences to those families who lost their loved ones”.
One of the travel agents, Shiv Kenwade, who booked two seats of the same bus for his passengers, said, “I frequently book tickets for Chintamani buses, and after a such a tragic incident occurred, I called up the passengers and took note of their situation, they have fortunately survived.”
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde visited Nashik where the bus collided and caught fire.
“I have visited the accident site and also met the injured, Rs 5 lakh will be given to the next of kin of the deceased and the seriously injured will be given Rs 2 lakh. Also, instructions have been given to officials to identify spots in Nashik and the state where accidents occur frequently and take action," said the CM.
President Droupadi Murmu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted their condolences.
Prime Minister Modi also announced ex gratia for the kin of the deceased.
"I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of many people in a bus fire in Nashik. In this accident, I express my deepest condolences to the families who lost their loved ones. I wish the injured people a speedy recovery," President Murmu said in a tweet.
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