Shafiul Azam Tutul, Jhalakathi: At least 17 people including seven children and five women were killed and 35 others injured when a bus plunged into a roadside pond at Chhatrakanda in Sadarupazila of Jhalakathi district on Saturday.
The accident occurred at around 10:30am when the driver of Barishal bound speedy bus with 60/70 passengers lost control over the steering while giving side to an auto-rickshaw and fell into the pond. The bus of Bashar SmrityParibhan was coming from Bhandaria.
Of the victims, 14 have been identified while the identities of the others could not be known immediately. The persons killed in the accident are Tariq Rahman (45) of Bhandaria Municipal area of Pirojpur, Salam Molla (60) of BhandariaUpazila, his son Shaheen Molla (25), infant daughter of Jalal Howlader of Bhandaria Sumaiya (6), Rahima Begum (60), her son AbulKalam Howladar (45) of the same upazila. Rabeya Begum (80) of North Sialkathi area, Abdullah (8) son of Delwar Hossain of Charbowalia village of Bakerganjupazila, Abdullah of Mehendiganj upazila. Ripon’s wife Irene Akhter (22), her infant daughter Ripa Moni (2), Khadija Begum (43) of Nizamiya area of Rajapurupazila of Jhalkathi, her daughter Khushbu Akhter (17), son of Nurul Islam of Balaibari area of South Rajapur. Nayan (16) and Salma Akhtar (42) of Banshbunia village of Kanthalia upazila.
The bodies of the deceased have been kept stacked on the ground floor of Sadar Hospital. The atmosphere of the hospital has become heavy with the cries of the relatives. The newly elected Mayor of Bhandaria Municipality of Pirojpur, Faizur Rashid Jomaddar, was seen busy handing over and carrying the dead bodies of the deceased with the staff at the Sadar Hospital.
In view of the request of the relatives, the district administration has handed over their bodies to the families without post-mortem.
Passengers injured in the accident of a passenger bus named ‘BasaarSmriti’ in Jhalkathi are undergoing treatment at Sadar Hospital.
District Commissioner Farah Gul Nijhum said, a five-member committee headed by Additional District Magistrate MamunShibli has been constituted to investigate the cause of the accident. The committee will submit its report in the next five days. The district administration has assured to help any poor family if they find it financially difficult to carry the dead body.
Eyewitnesses said, the Barisal-bound passenger bus from Bhandaria lost control and plunged into the nearby pond. At that time, the locals first recovered 13 bodies at the spot. Later 4 more bodies were recovered. According to local residents, the bus loaded with extra passengers overturned in the pond without any reason.
Meanwhile, after receiving the information, the fire service personnel started the rescue work. They recovered 17 bodies from inside the bus and from the pond and sent them to JhalkathiSadar Hospital. Besides, 35 injured people were sent to JhalakathiSadar Hospital from the spot. The injured have been treated at JhalakathiSadar Hospital.
The injured passengers said that the accident happened due to the tendency of the driver to pick up additional passengers and reckless speed. Almost all the injured and dead passengers are residents of Bhandariaupazila of Pirojpur district.
Later in the afternoon, fire service personnel pulled the bus out of the pond with a crane.
Injured passenger Russell Molla said that the driver of the bus going from Bhandaria to Barisal was stopping and picking up passengers from the beginning. At one point, when the bus was filled with passengers, the driver and helpers started lifting the passengers on the roof of the bus. The bus lost control while crossing Chhatrakanda in Dhansidi Union of Jhalkathi at breakneck speed and plunged into the nearby pond.
Immediately after the incident, the locals started rescue work. After some time, the fire service personnel took part in the rescue operation along with the locals. A crane was brought in to lift the bus. Because the carrying capacity of the crane is less than the weight of the bus, there is a delay in lifting the bowl from the pond. At that time RAB and policemen took position at the scene. One by one, 17 bodies were recovered from the bus.
Shamim Ahmed, supervisor of JhalkathiSadar Hospital, said 17 passengers have been killed so far. Among the dead are 8 women, 6 men and 3 children. 35 people are injured.
Barishal Deputy Director of Fire Service and Civil Defense, Belal Uddin said the rescue operation will be continued to see if there are any more passengers in the pond after pulling the bus. Meanwhile, no one could confirm anything about the number of passengers in the bus.
After the accident, Jhalkathi Deputy Commissioner Farah Gul Nizhum, Civil Surgeon Zahirul Islam went to Sadar Hospital to inquire about the injured.
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