PENUKONDA: About 15 people died on the spot when an Andhra Pradesh State Regional Transport Corporation bus fell into a gorge near Penukonda of Anantapur district. Nearby people rushed to the spot and started rescue operations. Meanwhile, 108 ambulances and other vehicles rushed to the spot to shift injured passengers.
Schoolbags and tiffin carriers were seen strewn amid the bodies of students and pools of blood. An earthmover was also used to remove the debris. Anantapur joint collector S. Satyanarayana said that at least seven persons from Mavatur village most of them students and three students from Nagalur village died in the incident. Assistant forest beat officer K. Ramakrishna of Chilamathur and N. Sreenivasulu, a DSC aspirant, were among those who died in the mishap.
K. Murali, a Class VI student of Gobburampalli and B. Narendra, an SSC student, also died on the spot. Muthayalamma, a student travelling in the bus, recalled that the driver had lost control and passengers, and even the conductor Noor Mohammad, had asked him to go slow.
“Our villagers warned the driver to control the speed a few minutes before the mishap. It was a miserable end for my close friends and fellow passengers,” she said. About 44 injured passengers were shifted to Hindupur and 14 passengers were referred to Bengaluru for better treatment, said Penukonda MLA B.K. Parthasarathi.
Two passengers died at the Anantapur general hospital and two more in the Hindupur district area hospital while being treated. Many of the passengers, including bus driver Gangappa’s condition remains critical.
Anantapur RTC regional manager K. Venkateswar Rao said that the RTC management had ordered an internal probe into the accident. “We will probe the possibility of the driver’s fault in negotiating the stretch and also other reasons,” he said.
Ministers Palle Raghunath Reddy, Paritala Sunitha and Sidda Raghava Rao were camping at the spot overseeing rescue measures. “The government has announced ex-gratia of `5 lakh for the families of the deceased,” Ms Sunitha said.
Road was under repair:
Bad road conditions and rash driving killed 15 people, while many were injured after an AP Road Transport Corporation bus fell into a gorge along the ghat road near Penukonda.
The accident occurred on the connecting road between two national highways from Penukonda to Hiriyur in Karnataka. A ghat road for about 6 kms exists between Madakasira and Penukonda.
Hundreds of lorries, buses and other vehicles take the route from NH-44, as at least a distance of 25 kms is reduced between the two highways. Recently, the state government sanctioned `10 crore for a new road on the ghat section in Penukonda.
A close relative of a TD representative has taken the sub-contract for the new road. The villagers pointed to the lapse on the contractor’s part by not laying an alternative road. An RTC official said the edges of road were not safe for big vehicles.
YSRC district unit president Shankar Narayana alleged the authorities had never initiated proper measures at the site. Penukonda MLA B. K. Parthasarathi said the driver should have been careful while driving along the ghat road.
Muthayalamma, a student travelling from Bandlapalli village, said, the RTC had ignored a series of representations to ply new buses and also a sufficient number based on demand.
At least 70 students travel in the same bus every day, but RTC authorities have not addressed this issue.
Location: Andhra Pradesh