Three people were killed and 15 others injured, nine of them seriously, when two APSRTC buses collided head-on near Sunkarapeta in the Vizianagaram district at 7.45am on Monday morning.
After an initial investigation by the police, the accident occurred when a bus tried to overtake a truck with LPG bottles and rammed into the other oncoming bus. Visibility in the area was poor due to smog, which could also have been a factor, police said.
The deceased were identified as Ashirwadham and Devudu, both APSRTC drivers from Vizianagaram district, and Sanyasi Naidu, a passenger from Palakonda. While nine of the injured were transferred to King George Hospital in Visakhapatnam, six were taken to hospitals in Vizianagaram for treatment, Vizianagaram Police Superintendent B. Rajakumari said.
The incident reportedly occurred due to poor visibility. Deputy Inspector General (Visakhapatnam Range), LKV Ranga Rao, said one bus goes from Visakhapatnam to Vizianagaram while the other goes from Palakonda to Visakhapatnam. Visibility was poor near Sunkarapeta as rubbish dumps were set on fire on either side of the road, Ranga Rao said.
Meanwhile, the bus from Palakonda pulled to the right side of the road to overtake a truck loaded with liquefied gas bottles and crashed head-on into the bus from Visakhapatnam, said Vizianagaram DSP P. Anil Kumar.
Major catastrophe averted
In the meantime, the truck with the LPG bottles also rammed into the back of the Palakonda bus. Police said a major disaster had been averted as the truck carried empty and incomplete LPG bottles that could explode under the sudden effects of the accident.
The stretch of the motorway on which the accident occurred becomes a double road without a partition. Poor visibility, hasty overtaking and non-compliance with lane procedures appear to be the possible reasons for the accident, said Ranga Rao.
Among the dead are the two APSRTC drivers who sat on the bus from Visakhapatnam to Vizianagaram.
While Ashirwadham was driving the bus, Devudu got on the bus near Anandapuram after his shift change.
The other deceased, Sanyasi Naidu, was a passenger from Palakonda who was on board the Pakakonda-Visakhapatnam bus and came to Visakhapatnam for medical treatment, Anil said.
Rapid police action
The first to respond to the accident were employees of the 5th APSP Battalion. Commander G. Koteswara Rao and his team rushed to the spot after he had informed the SP about the accident.
The APSP personnel started the first rescue operation within minutes of the accident and were simultaneously assisted by SP Rajakumari, DSP P. Anil Kumar, Traffic DSP L. Mohan Rao, AR DSP L. Seshadri, District Inspectors TS Manaveni, Sridhar, J. . Murali and Ch. Srinivasa Rao.
The police teams initiated rescue operations and moved the injured passengers in police vehicles and 108 ambulances for treatment to the Maharaja Government Hospital in Vizianagaram and later to the KGH.
The traffic was regulated by the traffic police and the Vizianagaram Rural Police and the damaged vehicles were pulled aside with the help of cranes.
Joint Collector (Revenue) Kishore Kumar initiated measures to bring seriously injured passengers to KGH for better treatment.
Mr. Ranga Rao visited the scene of the accident that morning. He later called the injured at the hospital and offered his condolences to the family members of those who died in the accident. He appreciated the commander of the 5th Battalion, officers and staff as well as the Vizianagaram SP and her team for their quick response.
Ms. Rajakumari said cases have been recorded and an investigation into the accident is ongoing.