In a miraculous escape, 70 passengers including school children escaped unhurt after their bus went up in flames in Vijayawada, thanks to the alertness of bus driver, Akula Venkateshwarlu.
Venkateshwarluâ€™s instinct and timely call to abandon the CNG bus, saved the passengers from the fire accident. He suspected a gas leakage in the bus and asked them to evacuate immediately, before it flared up.
The incident took place at around 8:40 am on Tuesday near Siddhartha Medical College in Vijayawada when the state-run city bus was plying between Autonagar to Railway station.
The bus had halted at the Siddharatha Medical College stop and had barely moved a few metres when Venkat smelt gas.
Relying on his instinct, he immediately stopped the bus and asked the conductor and passengers to evacuate the bus at once.
â€śAfter the driver alerted me, I immediately, asked the passengers to leave the bus. After getting down, within two minutes, the entire bus was engulfed in fire,â€ť said bus conductor, M Sireesha, who was witness to the entire incident.
The passengers, immediately alerted the fire department, who reached the spot within minutes.
Speaking to TNM, Akula Venkateshwarlu, who has been working as a driver for Road Transport Corporation for the past 10 ten years, said that it was a lucky escape for him and the passengers.
Evidently relieved that he just had a miraculous escape from the fire, he said, â€śIt was a great save. We were lucky enough to escape the fire accident unhurt, as the bus flared up within a minute or two, after we abandoned it.â€ť
The bus had 70 passengers, including 53 college and school-going students.
APSRTC, Regional Manager, P V Rama Rao, said that it was the first incident of its kind. He also said that they are collecting samples from the spot and said that they have initiated an inquiry to probe the incident and examine the reasons which led to the accident.
Mandal Revenue Officer, Siva Prasad, also reached the spot, took stock of the situation and said that he would send a report of the incident to the District Collector.