When the residents of Avinashi in Tiruppur district of Tamil Nadu heard about a road accident that had occurred at the nearest National Highway, they could not even begin to imagine the tragedy that had unfolded.
Many arrived at the spot to find seats lying scattered on the road and the bus itself nearly shredded to pieces. The Kerala Road Transport Corporation bus, travelling from Bengaluru to Ernakulam, was lying on the highway after it had been struck by a container truck.
"By the time I reached here, it was 6 am. People were already shifted to hospitals. But the magnitude of the accident was evident at the sheer sight of the bus. I didn't even imagine that anyone could survive. The bus had been literally torn apart, with its right portion completely destroyed," Senthil, native of Avinashi, told TNM at the accident site.
Of the 48 people who were on the bus, 20 people, including the bus driver and the conductor, lost their lives in the devastating accident. The crash occurred around 3.30 am on Thursday when it was rammed into by a container truck carrying tiles.
"This is beyond my imagination. In my 11 years of service, I have not seen such a grave accident of this magnitude, though several accidents have occurred in and around the highway. Even the day before yesterday, a car met with an accident in the same spot after losing balance and hitting the median. But this was massive," Dhamodharan, the Tiruppur district secretary of the Red Cross, said.
Meanwhile, a heartbreaking scene unfolded at the Tiruppur General Hospital as friends and families of victims waited to receive the bodies of their loved ones.
Speaking to TNM, Kiran, a relative of the 24-year-old Ernakulam native Aishwarya who lost her life in the accident, says that her family was anxiously waiting to celebrate the Shivratri holiday with her.
"Aishwarya was working at an IT company in Bengaluru. She was supposed to be home on Thursday to celebrate Shivaratri," said Kiran, amid tears, as Aishwarya’s body was brought out after the postmortem at Tiruppur General Hospital mortuary.
"It is heart wrenching, we do not know what to say to the family. We are helping them in whatever way we can to hasten the procedures. The Red Cross has arranged ambulances to take all 20 bodies to their native places, free of cost. Usually, our rules only allow us to do such service within 50 metres, but considering the gravity of the situation, we ignored those rules," Red Cross Tiruppur secretary Dhamodharan said.