As many as 18 people, including three women and a child, died on the spot when their vehicle collided with a private bus at Chikka Sindagi village in Sindagi taluk of Bijapur district on Monday.

According to the police, the victims, natives of Jath taluk in Sangli district of Maharashtra, were returning after visiting the Dattatreya temple at Ganagapur in Afzalpur taluk of Gulbarga district, when the accident occurred around 3.30 p.m.

The police said that the bus was heading towards Gulbarga.

Eye-witnesses said that the van had turned into a mangled mass of steel. “The scene was awful,” said Basavaraj Kundagol, an eye-witness.

The passengers of the bus and its driver escaped with minor injuries. However, the front right portion of the bus was completely damaged. Speaking to The Hindu, Superintendent of Police Ajay Hilori said the van had 22 people, more than its seating capacity. He said that the accident might have happened because both the drivers did not see each other as they were negotiating a curve.

He said that of the five persons who were shifted to Bijapur district hospital, one died and the condition of two was critical.

Among the bus passengers, three sustained minor injuries. They were treated at the local primary health centre and discharged, Mr. Hilori said.

To a question, he said that cases had been booked against drivers of the two vehicles. He said that while the driver of the van died on the spot, the driver of the bus fled the scene.

Traffic was affected on the road following the accident.

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