Forty persons were charred to death as the private luxury bus they were travelling in burst into flames after its fuel tank caught fire in Palem village in Mahbubnagar district in the wee hours on Wednesday.
“Charred bodies of 40 persons have been retrieved from the bus so far and efforts are underway to locate more bodies, if any,” Wanaparthy DSP Srinivas Reddy told.
Five other passengers including the driver Feroze Khan and a cleaner managed to escape in the incident in the district, which is 100 kms from Hyderabad.
The incident occurred at 5:10 AM when the diesel tank of the Hyderabad-bound bus from Bangalore hit against a culvert near Palem, police said, adding, the entire bus was engulfed in flames in a matter of minutes.
The bus carrying 49 passengers started from Bangalore at 11 PM on Tuesday night.
Among the passengers were some software engineers who were going to Hyderabad to celebrate Diwali with their families.
“It seems the bus was travelling at a high speed when its fuel tank hit the roadside culvert and caught fire. The passengers in the bus were burnt beyond recognition. The entire bus has been gutted,” another senior police officer said, adding they were collecting the list of passengers who had boarded the bus on Tuesday night.
Initial reports said that the central locking system of the luxury bus jammed preventing people from getting out of the door and windows.
Forensic experts and senior police and district officials were engaged in removing the bodies from the bus.
According to the cleaner of the bus, most of the passengers were sleeping when the mishap took place.
The cleaner, who has been admitted to a hospital in Hyderabad, said he was pulled out of the burning bus by the driver of a car passing through the area.
Meanwhile, worried relatives rushed to the office of the bus operator in Lakdi Ka Pul area in Hyderabad to collect information about their relatives.