A head-on collision between a truck and a state transport bus at the Malshej Ghat in Thane district left 27 dead and 10 injured Thursday morning. The collision sent the bus hurtling down the ghat into a ravine about 250 feet deep. The truck driver has been arrested by the police.
Eyewitnesses said the bus, travelling from Thane to Ahmednagar, collided with the truck travelling in the opposite direction around 9 am. The truck driver, Sharbjit Yadav (54), a resident of Ulhasnagar, was transporting logs of wood to Thane when the accident occurred. The bus driver, Kishan N Chaudhary (57), and the conductor, D B Gondhke (36), were killed.
“Prima facie, it seems the truck got into the path of the bus, which had to swerve hard to the left in order to avoid a collision. It still collided with the truck and careened off the ravine. We have arrested Yadav and charged him with culpable homicide not amounting to murder and rash and negligent driving under the IPC,” Babaji Bhor, sub-divisional police officer of Murbad, said.
The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRCTC) has announced a compensation of Rs 3 lakh for the next of kin of each of the deceased. CM Prithviraj Chavan also announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh from the CM’s relief fund. Chavan said the MSRTC would give Rs 50,000 to each of the injured and bear their medical expenses.
Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of MSRTC, Vikas Kharage, who rushed to the spot, ruled out any fault of the bus driver.
Ankush Bhoir, who runs a tea stall near the accident site, said he had rushed to the site after the collision. “I saw the truck by the side of the ghat. As I looked down into the ravine, I saw that the bus was in pieces. It had smashed straight through the concrete barrier erected along the edge of the road. I then got help from Vaishagare village and then called the police,” said Bhoir.
Within an hour, people from villages near Murbad reached the accident site along with policemen and fire officials. Construction workers who were working on an MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation) project nearby also helped in the rescue operation.
An officer with the Otur police said, “The entire rescue effort took nearly four hours.”
The victims were first rushed to the government hospital in Otur, which was the closest to the accident