June 16: A packed Calcutta-bound minibus speeding through Howrah bridge during the morning rush hour overturned to its left, leaving two passengers dead and the others trapped for several minutes.
With the door blocked, the trapped passengers were rescued either through the front windshield, which cops smashed with their batons, or the right windows.
Among the dead was Ganesh Ganguly, 28, who had boarded the bus at Golaghata on his way to Burrabazar. The other victim, 45-year-old Jahinder Singh, boarded the bus in Bantra.
“Ganguly was senseless when he was brought out of the bus. His face was swollen and blood was oozing out of the nose,” an officer of Burrabazar police station said.
Among the injured, 12 were admitted to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital. Police said some of them suffered serious face injuries and the others fractured their ribs or limbs or dislocated their shoulders.
A sergeant who was managing traffic on the stretch during the accident said the Malipanchghara-Sealdah minibus was speeding towards the approach to the Brabourne Road flyover around 11am when the driver slammed the brakes to avoid ramming into another vehicle which had suddenly come in front.
“As the bus was plying at a high speed, the sudden slamming of the brakes caused a jerk, under the impact of which the bus overturned. It fell to its left, so the door got blocked,” the sergeant recounted.
The sergeant said swarms of passengers wait at the base of the Brabourne Road flyover to board buses. “Buses and minibuses from Howrah tend to rush to the spot to pick up as many passengers as they can. In the process, they violate all rules,” the officer said.
The accident triggered a snarl on the city-bound flank of the bridge. The bus was removed around 11.15am.
Among those admitted to Calcutta Medical College was Kabita Das, who had boarded the bus in Salkia with her son Ronit, a Class IX student of Sanskrit Collegiate School.
“My mother was seated in the left row. I was standing. As the bus overturned, passengers sitting in the right row fell over us. I somehow managed to drag her out with the help of another passenger. We left the bus through a window. My mother dislocated her shoulder,” recounted Ronit, who suffered minor injuries.
A one-and-a-half-year-old boy was stuck beneath a seat. “A cop crawled his way into the bus, rescued the baby and handed him to his mother. The boy did not suffer any injury,” an officer said.
The driver, Madhav (whose surname police failed to gather) fled the spot. A case has been started under IPC sections 279 (rash driving on a public way), 304A (causing death by negligence), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others).