Raigad (Maharashtra), June 5 (IANS) Seventeen persons were killed and 35 others injured when a speeding luxury bus rammed into two stationary cars on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway here early on Sunday morning, officials said.
So powerful was the impact of the hit that the bus and Innova car veered off the highway at the spot near Shedung village and fell in a ditch.
A majority of the victims are from Satara and others hail from Pune, Navi Mumbai and Mumbai. The injured have been admitted to hospitals in Raigad and Navi Mumbai and the condition of two is described as critical.
According to the state Highway Control, the accident took place around 4 a.m., some 20 km away from Navi Mumbai, the satellite township adjoining Mumbai.
Preliminary investigations, spot assessment and eyewitness statements said that a Maruti Swift DZire with a flat tyre was stuck on the right side of the Pune-Mumbai arm of the expressway, while people were repairing the puncture.
Meanwhile, some people from a passing Toyota Innova stopped behind it for help, around 4 a.m.
Just then a speeding luxury bus of Nikhil Travels, coming from Satara, apparently failed to notice the two vehicles in the darkness and rammed the two cars before veering off the road and tumbling into a 40-feet ditch.
“The two cars have suffered extensive damage and they are completely mangled. The bus has suffered huge damage and cranes were called to lift it,” said a police official.
Political leaders expressed sadness at the accident.
“The accident near Panvel on Mumbai-Pune Expressway is tragic, deeply pained over the loss of lives and injuries,” said Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
“It is a big accident and a matter of concern for us,” said Public Works Department Minister Eknath Shinde.
Congress state general secretary Sanjay Dutt said the expressway has become a “deathway” with accidents occurring there frequently and urged the government to take immediate remedial measures.