A woman and a girl died, and 13 people sustained burn injuries, after a bus plying between Gurugram and Hamirpur in Uttar Pradesh caught fire on the Delhi-Jaipur expressway near Jharsa village on Wednesday evening, police officers aware of the case said.
Gurugram commissioner of police Vikas Kumar Arora, who reached the spot to oversee rescue operations, said the 40-odd passengers were mostly daily wagers who were travelling to their villages in UP. He said the passengers were carrying cooking gas cylinders, which was probably the cause of the fire. “However, further things would be ascertained by forensic experts,” he said.
At least four fire tenders were pressed into action to douse the flames. The incident resulted in a massive traffic snarl on NH-48, service lanes and other connecting roads in the city.
Arora said two charred bodies were pulled out from the wreckage of the bus. “At least 13 more passengers have sustained burn injuries. Eight of them are undergoing treatment at Gurugram civil hospital, while five, who were critical, were shifted to Safdarjung hospital in Delhi after treatment at Medanta Medicity,” Arora said. He identified the two victims as Maya, 25 and her daughter Deepali, 6.
The officer said that as per a preliminary investigation, the fire started from the rear end of the bus. “Commuters in other vehicles raised an alarm, but by the time the bus driver understood and stopped the bus, the fire had spread,” Arora said.
Varun Kumar Dahiya, assistant commissioner of police (crime), said the bus had an Arunachal Pradesh registration number, and they were trying to track down the bus driver and co-driver.
Manoj Kumar, an eyewitness to the incident, said he and other people on the road tried to warn the bus driver about the fire. “Once the bus stopped, we found that several passengers were trapped inside. We managed to pull out several injured passengers with our bare hands along with firefighters who had also reached the spot quickly to douse flames,” he said.