Three of the injured in serious condition; accident follows collision with tanker

Eight people, including three women and a child, were charred to death and 21 others sustained injuries when a private bus they were travelling in caught fire after hitting a fuel tanker at Chithode in Erode district in the early hours of Sunday.

The condition of the three injured is said to be serious. The bus was proceeding from Bangalore to Coimbatore.

The bus hit the tanker which was carrying aviation turbine fuel, when the driver tried to overtake the vehicle from the left side. In the impact, the fuel spilled over the bus, setting it afire immediately. About 5,000 litres of fuel in the rear chamber of the tanker got drained on the road within a few minutes.

Aided by the fuel, flames quickly engulfed the front portion of the bus.

The passengers, who were shaken up from their sleep, saw fire spreading quickly and rushed to the rear portion of the bus. Some of them managed to break open the emergency exit and a few windows and jumped out of the vehicle.

Two police personnel, who were part of the anti-robbery team and patrolling in the area, arrived at the spot within a few minutes of the accident and helped the passengers get out of the vehicle.

They alerted the fire and rescue service personnel and also informed the 108 ambulance service and nearby government hospitals.

The police personnel found the burnt bodies of a child, three women and the driver. The driver was identified as Sasikumar, a resident of Salem. The other four were Kiran Chand, a resident of Mangalore, Jayalakshmi (60), a resident of Bangalore, and her granddaughter Kamalika (2) and Shanmuga Sundara Vadivu, a native of Viruthunagar. Of the 21 injured, three persons, who jumped out of the bus, from the windows landed on the burning fuel on the road and sustained 90 per cent burns.

Ilavarasan (50), a private lodge owner, succumbed to wounds at a hospital. Muthukumar (56), husband of Shanmuga Sundara Vadivu, and Kavelchand, husband of Kiran Chand, were admitted to private hospitals in Coimbatore.

Later, Muthukumar and Kavelchand succumbed to burns at the hospital.