‘Can’t believe I am still alive’: Survivor of Nuh bus fire recounts horror - Hindustan Times

‘Can’t believe I am still alive’: Survivor of Nuh bus fire recounts horror

May 19, 2024 05:50 AM IST

Nine dead, 15 injured after bus carrying pilgrims returning Ayodhya, Prayagraj, Varanasi and Mathura catches fire on KMP Expressway in Nuh

Forty-four-year-old Krishna Kumari, lying in a hospital bed in Nalhar Medical College, in Nuh, still cannot believe she is alive. She sustained 20% burns after the bus she was travelling in caught fire near a toll plaza in Tauru.

Firefighters fight the blaze in the sleeper bus on the KMP Expressway on Saturday. (HT Photo)
Firefighters fight the blaze in the sleeper bus on the KMP Expressway on Saturday. (HT Photo)

“When I opened my eyes, I found myself in a hospital bed. I called my family in Jalandhar and told them I survived,” she said, her voice trembling. As soon as she spotted the fire, Kumari decided to jump out of the window. “I had no hope that I would survive and meet my family again... the pain was overwhelming. I thought I was jumping to my death,” she added.

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Kumari, a resident of Ludhiana, was among the 55people who survived Saturday’s tragedy.

According to the survivors, the flames spread rapidly and thick smoke engulfed the insides of the bus. The heat became unbearable before the blaze scorched the bus.

Sunita Sharma, 59, another resident of Hoshiarpur, Punjab, said she was fast asleep when she suddenly began to feel suffocated due to the smoke. “I opened my eyes and could not breathe. There were thick fumes inside... The initial moments were of panic and confusion. I raised the alarm and woke up those sleeping near my seat... people were gasping for air,” said Sharma.

Sharma, who was travelling with her husband, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter sustained 10% injuries.

For Vijay Kumari, 48, a resident of Jalandhar in Punjab, the smell of smoke remained in her senses hours after the incident. “The scene of flames and the smoke is still vivid... The situation inside the bus was chaotic and desperate. The heat was intense, and people were in agony. At least 10 people were standing outside and making videos of those trapped inside,” she said.

Sharma said some of them tried to open the windows, but they would not budge. Realising the urgency, she and others mustered the strength to break the windows. “We broke open two windows and started helping people jump out. Each person’s fall was a leap of faith,” she added.

Meera Rani, 52, another survivor, said since the main door of the bus was automatic, it remained jammed. “We entered the driver’s cabin and jumped out of the window. Nothing was visible and we were unaware of how the bus caught fire,” said Rani.

An eyewitness, Afsal Khan, 28, of Tauru, said he was returning to Tauru from Palwal with his cousin on a bike when he saw fire. “I signalled the driver to stop but he did not pay any heed. Another motorist also tried to intercept but he was terrified. When jumped out of the bus, we asked him why he did not stop and he said he thought we were robbers... so he accelerated,” said Khan.

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