An overloaded sleeper bus carrying passengers between the towns of Bangladesh and Hyderabad was engulfed in flames following a crash that happened late at night, while most passengers were asleep and caught unaware. The bus is said to have been passing another vehicle at a high rate of speed when it sideswiped a guardrail and its diesel fuel tank exploded following that impact. The bus was carrying several more passengers than it was legally allowed to transport; as a result, negligence charges have been filed against Jabber Travels, the bus company owner and operator. The transportation minister reported that police are investigating and questioning the driver of the bus, who escaped injury by climbing out a window of the burning bus while his passengers were trapped inside.
Hyderabad is in southern India, and sleeper buses regularly travel this route at night, carrying families to visit one another as well as a number of workers who travel regularly between the major cities. Passengers on the bus involved in the crash included an infant, a middle-aged couple celebrating a wedding anniversary and software engineers commuting between Bangalore and Hyderabad. The identification process for the 45 bodies pulled from the wreckage is expected to be slow, as the bodies were so badly burned in the fire that a DNA identification process will be required.
The driver, a colleague from the bus company and five passengers were able to escape out of a window following the crash, but the other forty-five passengers were trapped inside the bus due to a locking mechanism that the bus driver had control of. It is not clear why the driver did not disengage the locking mechanism before making his escape, or why he did not do more to assist the passengers. Family members of those onboard the bus gathered outside of the bus company’s offices and a police presence was required to maintain order. The owners of the bus company have not been located since the time of the crash, though police are searching for them.
India is noted for the extremely high number of accidents that occur on its roads. The World Health Organization has reported that there are over 100,000 deaths that occur on the country’s roads every year, with most of them being attributed to high rates of speed, reckless driving, and poorly maintained vehicles and roadways.