KSRTC bus with Sabarimala pilgrims gutted in fire near Chalakkayam; None injured
Pathanamthitta: A KSRTC bus carrying Sabarimala devotees from Nilakkal to Pampa caught fire inside the forest and was completely gutted. The devotees had a narrow escape and 3 from Karnataka sustained injuries.
The bus was completely destroyed in the fire. There were 65 persons on board and all of them are safe. The police which came on the way when the bus was on fire immediately rescued all the passengers to safety.
The injured were taken to the Government hospital in Pampa. The incident happened at about 6.50 pm on Friday near Chalakkayam at Ottakkal. The low floor KSRTC bus was damaged in the fire outbreak following a tyre burst when the bus was nearing Chalakkayam. When the driver and conductor detected the smoke, they stopped out to examine the bus. The fire that was noticed from the tyres immediately spread to the diesel tank. A police jeep that was going to Pampa from Pathanamthitta stopped on seeing the bus on fire and directed the pilgrims to alight quickly. The passengers rushed out from both the front and rear doors. Some devotees lost their irimudi and their shoulder bags.
As the forest area was devoid of any mobile coverage, they were unable to inform anybody about the mishap. The wireless communication too failed and the police jeep had to rush to Pampa and inform the Fireforce authorities. Though fire engine authorities tried to extinguish the fire, the water in the vehicle ran out. Immediately police informed the concerned authorities and Fire Service personnel from Nilakkal rushed to the scene. But before they could reach, the bus was completely razed.
Officials said the bus was very old and hence faulty. A few devotees said that at the onset of the journey from Nilakkal itself, they could sense a burnt smell. The fire that spread to the forest was extinguished quickly. Traffic was disrupted for over an hour on the Pampa road.