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Metropolitan Transport Corporation bus catches fire

Special Correspondent

No one was hurt; except chassis, everything else was gutted

— Photo: A. Muralitharan

The bus which was destroyed on Thursday evening.

TAMBARAM: A Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) bus was destroyed in a fire on Grand Southern Trunk Road in Alandur on Thursday evening. No one was hurt. But for the chassis, everything else was gutted. The MTC deluxe service on E 18 route was travelling between High Court and Guduvanchery. When it approached the Cement Road bus stop on GST Road, smoke began to emanate from the chassis.

The driver applied brakes immediately and brought the vehicle to a halt. He then jumped out of the vehicle and fled along with the conductor. Meanwhile, noticing the smoke, passengers began to panic and began jumping out of the vehicle.

E. Santhanam, a staff of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited at Chennai Harbour, said he boarded the bus at Broadway and was bound for Tambaram. “As the smoke was billowing from the engine side, people began to move back and this caused a commotion. Minutes before the bus burst into flames, all of us managed to get down through the rear door,” he said.

“Fortunately for us, the doors were open as the bus was completely packed. There must have been more than 100 passengers,” said B. Hemant Kumar, a B.Sc student at a college in Velachery. He had boarded the bus at Guindy and was on his way home in Urapakkam. “There were women, children and even infants, but none was injured,” he said, adding the fire broke out around 4.30 p.m.

Fifteen minutes later, an Emergency Rescue Team from the Guindy fire station arrived in a fire tender and put out the flames after nearly 30 minutes.

A water tanker was also pressed into service. The severely damaged bus was towed away by a recovery vehicle to the Alandur depot, located close to the spot where the fire broke out.

V.Babu, Managing Director, MTC, said that an electrical short circuit had caused the accident. However, a thorough investigation was under way. The bus was about three years old and had travelled about two lakh km, he added. The bus belonged to Central Depot, Pallavan Salai. Passengers complained of poor maintenance of the buses, including deluxe services.

As a result of the accident, traffic came to a grinding halt between Meenambakkam and St. Thomas Mount on both directions for nearly one hour. Policemen engaged the help of locals to clear the road of thick layers of soot left behind by the fire.

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