Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 9
Over 35 passengers of an air-conditioned Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) bus, had a miraculous escape when the bus, the bus caught fire and burnt completely after the passengers alighted at Dehlon bus stand near here today afternoon.
The bus, reportedly one among the fleet of condemned buses of the corporation, was on its journey to Malerkotla but the alert driver, sensing risk to the vehicle and occupants, decided to give up the journey in between.
Had the driver not dropped passengers forcibly at Dehlon bus stop and the bus could have caught fire during journey and the incident could have proven fatal for occupants of the bus.
Though, the chief inspector of the Ludhiana depot of the Corporation Karnail Singh tried to evade questions on the kilometers covered by the bus due to lack of record, he admitted that the bus was among those declared ‘condemned’. The Ludhiana Tribune has a copy of technical report in which the driver reported that the bus was not running properly, temperature gauze was not functional and was overheating.
In absence of any firefighting equipment, residents and cops supervised by IPS Kanwardeep Kaur, SHO, Dehlon, tried to extinguish the fire with water carried in buckets. Even the fateful bus did not have effective fire extinguisher, which is supposed to be present in the safety kit.
Volunteers led by Paramdeep Singh Deepa used portable fire-extinguishers installed at nearby Milan Palace to prevent diesel tank from catching fire. Had the tank caught fire and exploded life and property of owners of establishments situated nearby could have been affected adversely. The fuel tank contained over 200 liters of diesel at the time of incident.
Flames coming out of the burning bus were so extensive that the owners of nearby domestic and commercial establishment had to shut down their shutters to save belongings. However fixtures of some premises and electric cables were badly damaged with fire.
Traffic to Ludhiana and Malerkotla was diverted on alternative routes for few hours. As no formal complaint was made by anyone the Dehlon police registered a DDR.
The driver refused to take the bus to Patiala via Malerkotla Nabha route, he agreed to commute between Ludhiana and Malerkotla slowly.
Buses reach Dehlon within half an hour from Ludhiana but this bus took more than 90 minutes for traveling the same distance.
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