Barabanki : Eighteen people were killed and 25 injured after a truck rammed into a stationary double-decker bus here, police said on Wednesday.
The accident took place on the Lucknow-Ayodhya highway under the Ram Sanehi Ghat area late on Tuesday night.
It was raining heavily when the accident took place and this posed some problems in the rescue operation, a senior police official said.
The private bus was carrying over 130 passengers to Bihar from Punjab and Haryana, police said.
The axle of the bus broke and it was parked on the road when a speeding truck coming from behind hit it, killing 18 people and injuring 25, police said.
Some passengers were standing or resting outside the bus and others were sitting inside when the accident took place.
While 11 people died on the spot, seven died on the way to the hospital, they said.
The victims, mostly labourers from Bihar, were returning home after sowing paddy in Punjab and Haryana, police said.
Police rushed to the spot after receiving information and the rescue operation was carried out with the help of locals.
The injured were rushed to a local hospital and from there those with serious injuries were shifted to a trauma centre in Lucknow, Additional Director General of Police (Lucknow Zone) S N Sabat said.
Recalling the fateful night, bus passengers Sitaram and Mauji Lal said they were saved as they had stepped out of the vehicle while a mechanic was repairing the axle.
“The axle of the bus broke in the night and a mechanic had come to repair it. Almost half of the passengers got down from the bus because of the heat. We were saved as we had crossed the road and were standing on the other side when the truck hit the bus,” Sitaram said.
For Sanjay Mandal it was a routine work trip that turned into a tragedy. He lost his father and cousin in the accident. Another passenger, Bharat Sada, said three of his associates were seriously injured.
“Like every year, we had gone to work in agricultural fields of Punjab and were on our way back home,” he said.
Some passengers were sitting at a little distance as they waited for the repair work to be completed. When the truck hit the bus, some of them were dragged for some distance, recalled another passenger.
A local resident said it was a very gory sight. About 15 people were dead and 20-25 others were lying injured on the road, he said.
Superintendent of Police Yamuna Prasad said families of the passengers can call on helpline 9454417464 to enquire about them.
Those killed in the accident are from Bihar”s Sitamarhi, Madhepura, Supaul and Saharsa districts, he said.
So far, he said 12 of the dead have been identified as Baijnathram (55), Balram Mandal (55), Sikandar Mukhiya (40), Jagdish Sahani (40), Jai Bahadur Sahani (40), Naresh (37), Suresh Yadav (35), Monu Sahani (30), Santosh Singh (30), Akhilesh Mukhiya (30), Indal Mahto (25) and Bouwa (24).
Later, in a statement, the Barabanki police gave details of four other victims–Mastram Mandal (60), Rajdev Mahto (60), Shanichar (50) and Gagandev (35).
The identity of two other dead passengers is yet to be ascertained.
A case has been registered at the Ram Sanehi Ghat police station under various sections of the IPC, Epidemic Diseases Act and the Disaster Management Act against the owner and manager of the company operating the bus besides the driver of the truck.
Police said 81 passengers, who survived the accident, were shifted to a school in Ram Sanehi Ghat, given food and water, and then sent in two buses to their destinations.
SP Yamuna Prasad said some injured passengers have been referred to the Trauma Centre at King George”s Medical University (KGMU) in Lucknow and one injured is undergoing treatment at the district hospital in Barabanki.
Fifteen others have been discharged from hospitals after treatment.
“In King George”s Medical University Trauma Centre, 11 patients from Barabanki were admitted. One has head injury, one has spine injury and two suffered injuries related to orthopaedic department. The rest have minor injuries,” Dr Sandeep Tiwari of the KGMU said.
Family members of the injured can call on 08887019133 and 09453004209 to enquire about their health, Dr Tiwari said.
The bodies are being handed over to families after autopsy, he added.
In Lucknow, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath about the accident and extended his condolences to the families of the dead.
The CM has also expressed grief over the incident and directed the district magistrate and the superintendent of police of Barabanki to provide the best medical care to the injured, Awasthi said.
PM Modi has also announced an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh each for the families of the dead from the Prime Minister”s National Relief Fund. The injured will be given Rs 50,000 each.
A government spokesperson said the CM has directed ministers Ashutosh Tandon and Mahendra Singh to visit the Lucknow trauma centre to oversee the treatment of the victims.
Political leaders, including Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati, state Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu and AAP MP Sanjay Singh, took to Twitter to express grief over the loss of lives in the accident.