Only four survivors in Pandavapura bus accident

Mandya Police form two special teams to nab driver, conductor and owner of the ill-fated bus

Pandavapura: There are only four survivors in yesterday’s bus tragedy at Kanaganamaradi in Pandavapura taluk. Of the survivors are 14-year-old Rohith and his co-passenger Girish, the bus driver Shivappa and conductor whose identity has not been revealed.

The private bus, which was on its way from Pandavapura to Mandya, fell into the Visvesvaraya Canal at Pandavapura killing 30 people including school children, women and an infant. According to Police, the body of a two-year-old child was fished out, around two km from the incident spot.

The 18-year-old bus (KA-19 A-5676) with 34 people, including the driver and the conductor, came hurtling down and fell into the canal when the steering rod of the bus broke and the driver lost control of the vehicle.

As the bus reached the edge of the canal, the driver and conductor managed to jump from the vehicle and fled from the spot.  Two passengers — Girish and Rohith — managed to wriggle out of the emergency door.

The villagers had a tough time fishing out the bodies as the bus was fully submerged in the 19-ft-deep water. Manjunath, a resident, said that they alerted the local authorities who stopped the water into the canal. The bus was lifted out with the help of a crane after the water receded.

A woman seen in a state of shock after losing her loved ones in the accident.

Survivors recount tragedy

Twenty-six-year-old Girish, who works as a carpenter in Nagamangala and 14-year-old Rohith alias Karthik are shocked.  “I was going to Mandya to meet a friend. I was shocked when the speeding bus veered towards left and fell into the canal nearby,” said Girish. “I was in a shock but managed to break the window and come out of the sinking bus,” he added.

As he was getting out of the sinking bus, Girish noticed Rohith in his white school uniform, who was also by a window, seeking help. Acting quickly, he and some other locals who had gathered by then helped Rohith to safety.

Girish said the passengers had no option to escape as the water flow in the canal was high. “The bus went into the canal directly. There were nearly eight school students in the bus, but I could pick only Rohith,” he said.

Rohith, a Class 6 student, who had lost his father and mother, is yet to come to terms with the loss. He is being taken care of by his aunt. “I am sad that I could not save my friends,” he regretted.

Rohith, along with his school friends — Preethi, Ravikumar and Prashanth — boarded the bus after finishing classes at Kanaganamaradi. They were travelling to Vadesamudra, nearly a five-minute drive from the accident spot. “All the passengers were screaming for help. My friends died on the spot. We could not save them,” said Rohith.

Mandya Police have formed two special teams to nab the driver and owner of the bus. The driver of the bus, Shivappa, a resident of Holalu village in Mandya taluk, absconded soon after the accident, said Mandya Superintendent of Police Shivaprakash Devaraj. Meanwhile, the villagers have demanded that the road be asphalted and barricades be erected along curves and dangerous spots to avert such tragedies in future.

CM visits spot, announces compensation, orders probe

Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy cancelled all his programmes and dashed to the village yesterday where he announced Rs.5 lakh compensation and ordered a probe into the accident. Mandya District Minister C.S. Puttaraju and Transport Minister D.C. Thammanna rushed to spot and saw that the dead bodies were fished out.

Hearing about the tragedy from the relatives of the victim, the CM was left in tears when a woman narrated that her family lost the only bread-winner in the accident. Former CM Siddharamaiah too visited the accident spot and consoled the family.

The villagers raised slogans against the Transport Minister and the Government and pressed for withdrawal of private buses and demanded that KSRTC buses be operated.

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