In both cases ruptured diesel tanks triggered fire

Barely a fortnight after a Volvo bus caught fire killing 45 people near Mahabubnagar, Andhra Pradesh, comes an eerily similar accident that has killed seven persons near Haveri.

In both incidents, fuel tanks ruptured. Although experts say diesel is less volatile than petrol, its contact with a ‘very hot’ material like the engine in a running vehicle could set off a major fire.

Both buses were owned by private operators based in Bangalore: Jabbar Travels in the Mahabubnagar case and National Travels in the Haveri case. Both buses were moving at very high speeds when the accidents occurred.

None of the passengers was able to break open the emergency exit windows in the Mahabubnagar tragedy.

Passengers saved others

But thankfully, in Haveri, some enterprising passengers saved several lives when they broke windows with bare hands in the absence of hammers.

Some passengers fractured their limbs when they jumped out of the windows located 7 ft from the ground and through the ventilators.

Sohanjeet Randhawa, head of marketing, Volvo Buses, told The Hindu that the report of an in-house inquiry into the Mahabubnagar incident was yet to reach him. When he got it, he could share it only with the regulating agencies. Nevertheless, Volvo had adopted stringent safety measures. The company was yet to ascertain what exactly happened in Haveri.

An accident, he said, could be the result of various factors.

Was Volvo planning to power down its buses that currently had horse powers of 290, 340 and 390? Mr. Randhawa said curbing speed required a collective initiative.

All stakeholders — the government, the operators and the producers — must come together, he said.

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