TAMIL NADU

7 killed in bus collision near Usilampatti

MADURAI NOV. 24 . Seven persons, including a child, were killed and 25 persons sustained injuries when two State-owned buses collided on the outskirts of Usilampatti near here today.

The injured were admitted to different hospitals. The condition of 17 victims was said to be critical.

The mishap occurred at around 3.45 p.m. on the Madurai-Theni National Highway when a TNSTC bus, heading for Madurai from Kumuli, dashed head-on with a SETC bus proceeding to Cumbum from Bangalore. The impact of the collision was so powerful that the entire two-seat row on one side of the SETC bus was ripped off.

While six persons died on the spot, one male passenger succumbed soon after he was admitted to the Usilampatti Government Hospital.

According to the locals, the speeding TNSTC bus tried to overtake a vehicle and lost control. Both the buses rammed roadside tamarind trees and came to a halt. ''We heard a deafening sound followed by some screeching noises and cries of passengers,'' an eyewitness said. A group of students rushed to the rescue of the victims. The Usilampatti police reached the accident site within minutes and transported the injured to hospitals.

The deceased were identified as P. Surya Prakash (2) of Rajakkapatti, K. Rajeswari (12) of Bodi, Velapparaj (40), a TNSTC employee of Madurai, Susai (35) of Royappanpatti, Arul Murugan (34) of Periakulam and Suruliraj (60) of Royappanpatti. The identity of the seventh person could not be established as the body was crushed beyond recognition, the police said.

The DIG and Commissioner of Police, M.V.N. Surya Prasad, the District Collector, S. Ramachandran, and the Madurai SP, Avi Prakash Sinha, visited the spot.

The wreckage was cleared within an hour restoring traffic on the busy highway.

A special medical team was formed at the Government Rajaji Hospital by the Dean, A.J. Balakrishna Rao, to provide immediate attention to the victims at the casualty and trauma blocks.

The Usilampatti taluk police and transport officials are investigating.