30 killed as bus falls in ditch in Karnataka, catches fire

Bangalore, May 30 (Calcutta Tube) At least 30 people, including 10 children, were burnt to death early Sunday when the state-run bus they were travelling in fell off a bridge into a ditch and caught fire in Karnataka’s Chitradurga district, police said.

The bus was on way to Bangalore from Surpur in Gulbarga district when the accident took place at Challakari, some 200 km from here.

‘The accident happened between 3 a.m and 3.30 a.m. when the bus hit a cement road block on the small bridge and the driver lost control over the vehicle, which veered off the bridge and fell into a ditch. The bus caught fire when its diesel tank exploded on impact,’ Chitradurga Superintendent of Police Labhu Ram told IANS over telephone from the accident site.

The North Eastern Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (NEKSRTC) bus had 64 passengers on board.

Besides 10 children, the dead included 15 women and five men.

As is the practice, there were two drivers (Siddaswamy and Shetty) and one conductor (Nanda Gowda) on the bus for the night service.

Of the 28 people injured, three have been admitted to the government district hospital at Chitradurga, about 30 km away, and the remaining 25 are being treated at Challakari town, around a kilometre from the accident spot,’ Ram said.

The driver, however, survived the accident with injuries.

‘We have registered a case against the driver and the corporation,’ Ram added.

Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who expressed shock and grief over the tragedy, announced a compensation of Rs.100,000 for each victim from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

State Transport Minister R. Ashok, who visited the accident spot, told reporters that preliminary reports indicated that negligence on the driver’s part had resulting in the accident.

‘Negligent driving is suspected to have caused the accident as the bus was speeding on the extreme left and hit a road barrier on the bridge and skidded into the ditch,’ Ashok said.

State Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy also visited the spot to supervise rescue and relief operations.

NEKSRTC has also announced a compensation of Rs.250,000 to the kin of each of those killed.

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