Forty-five school students had a miraculous escape thanks to the alert driver of their bus, which went up in flames minutes after the children were evacuated.
Driver Srinivas stopped the vehicle and helped the students disembark after the children noticed smoke from a rear seat and raised an alarm. The incident occurred on the national highway on the Batasingaram main road in Ranga Reddy district on Thursday morning.
The bus, which belongs to Spoothnika International School in Vanasthalipuram, was on its way towards the school from Pochampally in Nalgonda district. The students noticed the thick smoke at about 8.15 a.m. and alerted the driver.
Srinivas stopped the vehicle on the highway and helped the panic-stricken students get off through the main door. Some passers-by also joined in the rescue efforts, helping the children out through the windows before the flames could spread.
A fire-tender from Hayathnagar rushed to the spot and the flames were extinguished in half hour, police said.
Anxious parents rushed to the spot and took their children back home on receiving the news.
Charred remains of the bus, scattered books, and tiffin boxes among other articles were visible at the site.
“We panicked after seeing smoke and raised an alarm. As soon as the driver stopped the vehicle, we rushed out,” said a shell-shocked Tirumala Reddy, a Class 8 student.
There was all-around appreciation for the driver’s presence of mind.
“He quickly managed to bring the children out of the bus without any stampede-like situation,” said an eye-witness.
The school management declared a holiday after the incident and sent the other children home. Hayathnagar Sub-Inspector S. Srinath said an electrical short-circuit could have caused the mishap.