Twelve persons, including an infant, died and 23 others sustained injuries after a speeding mini-bus they were travelling in lost control and rammed into a container on the Samruddhi Expressway in Maharashtra’s Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar district (previously Aurangabad) early on October 15. The bus was carrying 35 passengers who were returning from a pilgrimage to Sailani Baba Dargah in Buldhana and heading back to Nashik.
The accident took place in Vaijapur area of the expressway, located nearly 80 km from the district headquarters and 350 km from Mumbai.
Prima facie, the mini-bus driver lost control of the vehicle, which was already overloaded with passengers, far exceeding its capacity of 17. The collision occurred when the ill-fated vehicle stuck the stationary container truck from the rear near Jambargaon toll plaza.
The authorities swiftly responded to the emergency, with the Samruddhi Expressway control room receiving a call about the accident at 12.07 AM from a local. An assistance team and ambulances were dispatched to the scene. The wounded, including the driver who received a head injury, were rushed to nearby facilities for immediate medical assistance. The driver said that he saw the truck in front of his vehicle suddenly before the accident. The truck driver has been detained for questioning.
Officials said that the accident took place on the first lane from the crash barrier side where the vehicles are supposed to move at a speed of 80 km per hour. The mini-bus collided with the truck on the first lane from the road shoulder and the rescue team had to cut a part of the mangled vehicle from the driver’s side to bring people out of the vehicle.
President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the loss of lives in the accident.
The PMO in a post on X said, “Pained by the loss of lives due to an accident in Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar district. My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. I wish the injured a speedy recovery. Ex-gratia of ₹2 lakh from PMNRF would be given to the next of kin of each deceased. The injured would be given ₹50,000.”
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde ordered for a probe into the accident and announced ex-gratia of ₹5 lakh to the deceased persons’ families.
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut claimed commuters’ safety was overlooked on the Samruddhi Expressway. “Chief Minister Shinde, DCM Fadnavis only wants to claim credit, they should also take the responsibility of deaths due to accidents on the expressway,” he criticised, demanding that the State government should be booked for culpable homicide.
Said to be the brainchild of Mr. Fadnavis, who represents the Nagpur South West Assembly Constituency, the Samruddhi Mahamarg, officially named the Hindu Hrudaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg, is a 701-km-long expressway connecting Nagpur to Mumbai, encompassing 10 districts, including Nagpur, Washim, Wardha, Ahmednagar, Buldhana, Aurangabad, Amravati, Jalna, Nashik and Thane.
The construction of the expressway is supervised by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation, and it has been the site of numerous accidents since its inauguration in December 2022.