The Volvo had no emergency exit mechanism and the main door was jammed: FSL experts
The Volvo bus that went up in flames at Palem in Mahbubnagar district a few days ago claiming 45 lives had no emergency exit mechanism, concluded experts from the Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Laboratory (APFSL).
In the absence of an emergency exit and with the main door jammed, the victims were trapped and charred to death. In addition, flammable material used to do up the interiors of the bus like curtains, seats and flooring and the cabin baggage contributed to the flames spreading fast, an official of the FSL said, adding that “it could all have happened in just six minutes.”
A two-member FSL team – Gopinath and A. Raja Naik – re-examined the spot on Friday and Saturday and found various discrepancies on the part of bus operator. Seven travellers including bus driver Feroz Pasha and cleaner Ayyaz escaped with burns.
Apathy on the part of the operator in failing to provide small hammers inside the bus, which could have been used by the passengers to break open the windows, also shut out the escape options. The mandatory norm of having two drivers on long distance travel too was brazenly ignored.
The tyre skid marks on the culvert suggested that the driver was driving the vehicle at a speed of about 120 kmph, the official said. The team is likely to submit a detailed report within a few days. The official said, while some passengers did try to break the window panes to escape, a few others made a vain bid to yank open the door to come out.
Forensic experts found a charred body at the door and another stuck in the iron rod of the window pane. Another heart-rending scene was that of a charred woman passenger clutching a baby. The way other bodies were found in the seats indicated that they died after inhaling carbon monoxide even before they were engulfed by the flames.
Thick smoke enveloped the bus when the flames started originating from the diesel tank. With flames erupting from the luggage compartment and the heat radiating from below, it became impossible for the passengers to escape, the official pointed out.