The toll in Saturday's accident on the Salem-Bangalore four-lane National Highway, in which two buses collided head-on, rose to nine, and 52 others were seriously injured.
Survivors told The Hindu that an omni bus from Bangalore proceeding to Ottakarai near Kottayam in Kerala was cruising at a high speed when a moped rider suddenly came onto the highway. Bus driver Biju Wilson (42) of Tiruchur, on spotting him, swerved to the right sharply.
The bus hit the moped rider, who was later identified as one Rajendran from a near-by village.
The moped rider had lost control and jumped over the centre median and strayed on to the opposite lane of the highway and hit a private bus coming from Salem to Dharmapuri, which was full with passengers.
The impact of the accident was so heavy that the buses smashed into each other, killing seven on the spot and two others on the way to hospital. The moped rider suffered a fracture on his legs and was admitted to the hospital.
Case to be registered
SP N. M. Mylvahanan told The Hindu that the bus proceeding to Kerala was cruising on the highways when the accident occurred.
“We are contemplating registering a case after a thorough investigation,” he said.
The SP pointed out that the Salem Police had asked senior officials of National Highways Authority of India to carry out a study on all feeder roads and take appropriate steps to arrest the speed of vehicles that enter highways. As such, the police had registered a case under Section 304 (a) of Indian Penal Code. Three were killed in the omni bus while the rest who died in the mishap had travelled in the private bus from Salem.
The dead, besides Biju Wilson, included Bagyaraj (25) of Theevattipatti, private bus driver Kamal Basha (60) and his wife Dilsa Begum (50), Bangalore, Chinnathambi (Omalur), Raja (16), Thevattipatti, Shanmugasundaram (40), Gajalnaickenpatti, Kamalakannan (38), Thevattipatti and also an unidentified man, aged about 55.
Three in serious condition
Three others who are undergoing treatment at the Salem Government Medical College Hospital are in a serious condition.
State Ministers K. Palanisamy and P. Palaniappan and Collectors K Maharabushanam (Salem) and Lilly (Dharmapuri), Salem Range DIG G. Venkataraman and others supervised the rescue efforts that lasted nearly five hours.
Keywords: road accident