Bus driver Srinivas, who fractured both legs and suffered a head injury, died while undergoing treatment in a government hospital in Karimnagar.
Jagtial: In one of the worst road accidents in Telangana, an overcrowded state-run bus swerved off the road and hurtled down the hillside into a valley in Jagtial district on Tuesday, killing 57 people and wounding around 36 others.
As many as 102 passengers were travelling in the bus, apart from two staff members, when the driver tried to negotiate a bend on the Kondagattu ghat and allegedly lost control over the vehicle after it hit a speed-breaker around 11 am.
The deceased included 36 women and five children. Some of the victims were pilgrims returning to Jagtial from the temple town of Kondagattu after offering prayers at the famous Lord Anjaneya temple. A majority of them were from the villages of Shaniva-rampeta, Thimmayyapalli and Himathraopeta located in Kondagattu.
While some bodies were scattered along the Kondagattu ghat valley some were stuck in the bus, police said.
Shrieks and wails pierced the valley at the scene of the accident as women survivors mourned the death of their dear ones.
Locals, who were the first to pull out the survivors and bodies, alleged that the road that was closed some time back over safety issues was reopened at the insistence of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) officials to save on fuel as it brought down the travel distance between Kondagattu and Jagtial.
Jagtial superintendent of police Sindhu Sharma said, “It is suspected that the driver lost control near a speed-breaker resulting in the accident. However, the exact reason is under investigation.”
Finance minister Etela Rajender said, “The bus was new, driver was also experienced. It is a dangerous route. Earlier also there were accidents. We will take all precautions by developing this road or diverting (the services).”
TSRTC authorities have suspended Jagtial bus depot manager Hanumantha Rao for negligence in operating buses on the route and have ordered an inquiry. Bus driver Srinivas, who fractured both legs and suffered a head injury, died while undergoing treatment in a government hospital in Karimnagar.
He was recently transferred to the Jagtial bus depot from the Karimnagar bus depot. Local people said that the condition of the bus that operated on the Kondagattu ghat section was poor and alleged that there were no signboards warning of dangerous sections of the road.
The bus was to ply between Shanivarampeta and Jagtial but the driver deviated from this route and went to Kondagattu in the hope of getting more passengers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the tragedy as “shocking beyond words”.
“The bus accident in Telanganas Jagtial district is shocking beyond words. Anguished by the loss of lives. My thoughts and solidarity with the bereaved families. I pray that the injured recover quickly,” Mr Modi tweeted.
State ministers K.T. Rama Rao, Patnam Mahender Reddy, Etela Rajender, MLAs Bodige Shoba, Jeevan Reddy and former MP Ponnam Prabhakar visited government hospitals in Jagtial and Karimnagar.