Close on heels of the death of 19 passengers in a road accident in Angul on September 9, another road tragedy struck the state on 20-09-2016. At least six people were electrocuted and 25 others injured after a bus they were travelling in came in contact with a live electric wire in Dhenkanal district. The incident also occured four days after a truck driver was burnt alive after his vehicle touched a high tension line in Dhenkanal.
The tragedy struck near a school in Bhuban area when the bus, carrying nearly 35 passengers, was going towards Birasal in Dhenkanal district from Cuttack via Kamakhyanagar. The driver took a detour near the school after he saw a road blockade on his usual route. The overhead carrier of the bus touched the live wire, leading to the tragedy.
Six passengers died on the spot while the injured were rushed to nearby hospitals. Two injured were shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack, Dhenkanal district collector Roopa Roshan Sahoo said.
The deceased have been identified as Manas Das (35) Gobinda Sendha (42) Rakabin Nayak (40), Ramesh Nayak (35) Bhabani Sankar Sahoo (50) and Gobinda Soren (46). Police said bus driver Pitambar Nayak was arrested.
Survivors blamed civic negligence as the live wires were dangling at a low height. They allege that the state energy department did not wake up even after a truck driver was burnt alive when his vehicle touched a high tension line in Dhenkanal last week. "In many places, live wires dangle at low height posing threat to lives. The department is not serious to the issue," said Karunakar Mishra, a survivor. Locals said the rescue operation was started late after electricity supply was disconnected in the area.
"We are probing whether the live wire was hanging at a lower level from the ground," energy minister Pranab Das said. Transport minister Ramesh Majhi said the driver should have gauged the height of the live wire before driving the bus under it.
Survivors recounted their ordeal and said chaos reigned soon after the bus touched the live wire. "After getting the electric jolt, we all ran towards the exit door. Many passengers, including I, fell down inside the bus. There was a stampede. Luckily, I managed to get out," said Jayant Pradhan, another survivor.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik expressed grief and announced Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia to the next of the kin of the deceased passengers while state energy minister Pranab Prakas Das asked Odisha Power Transmission Corporation limited to disburse Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the bereaved families.