Tragic bus mishap in Kerala leaves teachers, students inconsolable

The bus, named ‘Luminous’ carrying students of the school had left for Ooty, on an excursion trip, at around 7pm on Wednesday night but met with a mishap at around 11.45pm.
Students who lost their lives in the mishap
Students who lost their lives in the mishap

The tragic mishap on Wednesday night that took the life of five students and a teacher of the Baselios Vidyanikethan Senior Secondary School in Ernakulam has come as a shock not just to teachers and students but the residents of two panchayats Mulanthuruthy and Thiruvaniyoor where they hailed from. A hartal was observed in both the panchayats on Thursday as a tribute to the victims of the mishap.

The bus, named ‘Luminous’ carrying students of the school had left for Ooty, on an excursion trip, at around 7pm on Wednesday night but met with a mishap at around 11.45pm near Vadakkancherry on the Thrissur-Palakkad National Highway. It rammed into a Kerala Road Transport Corporation Bus on its way to Coimbatore from Kottarakkara and then fell into a swamp. The students who lost their lives are Emmanuel CS (17), Anjana Ajith (17), Diya Rajesh (15), Criss Winterborn Thomas (15) and Elna Jose (15). Three others, who were on the KSRTC bus, too lost their lives.

Fr Viju Elias, who is associated with the school management, said the deceased students were all from Mulanthuruthy and Thiruvaniyoor panchayats, and resided within a few kilometres of the school, located in Giri Sinai, Vettickal. Most of the school’s students, teachers and other staff are residents of Mulanthuruthy. They were a close-knit community where everybody knew everyone else, and most of the teachers’ children were also students of the school. The teachers and staff have known the students all their lives. The tragedy that struck the school is hence also the tragedy of the community and people residing in its neighbourhood. 

Many among the teachers, huddled in the school staff room, were in tears, and unable to console each other in the face of the grave tragedy. They received the news of the accident early morning around 4am and many can't believe that the students they taught from kindergarten onwards are no more. Noby George, a teacher at the school, said, “Everybody is finding it difficult to process the news. We are not able to console even our students.”

Pushpan PK, parent of a Class IX student at the school, said that his son was inconsolable on hearing the news. “My son knew some of the children who passed away in the accident. He has been in shock since the news came,” he said. Fr Viju said the mortal remains of the victims would be kept In state at the school for an hour and half on Thursday afternoon for the public to pay homage. 

One of the students who died in the mishap, Anjana Ajith, is the daughter of a teacher, Asha. She too had accompanied the students on the trip. A teacher said that the mental shock on the teachers and students is so great that they will have to be given counselling. The teachers did not know whom to console, their students who lost their lifelong friends or their colleagues whose children were injured or dead.

Shibu Scaria, parent of a former student of the school, said that his daughter and her friends have all been badly affected by the news. “My daughter fainted on hearing the news. The tragedy is huge and we do not know how our children will be able to overcome this,” he said. Shibu’s younger son, a class eight student of the school, said that VK Vishnu, the physical education teacher of the school, who died in the mishap, was a lively person who was dear to everyone. “Vishnu was the only child to his parents. His own child is barely one-year-old.The tragedy of the family is huge,” Shibu said.

Paul Thomas, a bus driver at the school, said that it is devastating that the children he and his colleagues took great care to pick and drop every day had got into this fatal accident. “One of the deceased students, Elna, used to travel on my bus since she was a toddler,” he said. 

MR Bhaskaran, a schoolbus driver said Jomon, who drove the ill-fated bus, has taken students on excursion trips in previous years too. “No untoward incident has happened during our school excursions so far. However, it is now being heard that he has been involved in accidents earlier,” he said. It is learned that Jomon leases out the bus from its Pampady-based owner every year.

Motor Vehicle Department officials who came to the school to gather information said that the driver Jomon has had five cases for previous offences in his name. The Kottayam RTO is taking steps including cancelling the permit of the bus.

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