Bhubaneswar, Jan 21 (UNI) Three pilgrims, including a woman, were killed and 24 others injured, five of them critically, when a Madhya Pradesh Road Transport Corporation sleeper coach caught fire near the busy Kalpana square here today.
While two of the pilgrims identified as Bhiran Singh and Ratan Lal, both in their 60's and belonged to Hinotia village burnt alive inside the bus,one woman yet to be identified,succumbed to her injuries at the SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack.
Sources said the toll might rise as five critically injured passengers with over sixty to seventy per cent burn injuries were still battling with their lives at the SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack.
The bus carrying 67 pilgrims from Laxmanpura, Hinotia and Jirapur villages of Rajgada district in Madhya Pradesh suddenly caught fire when it entered the city this morning near the busy Kalpana. In no minute the entire bus was engulfed in a ball of flame.
Sources said the passengers were carrying woollen garments and kerosene stoves which prompted the fire to spread so fast while diesel kept in the bus further worsened the case and the bus was completely burnt in few minutes.
The local people present at the spot rescued the injured people from the burning bus and the police rushed them to the Capital Hospital where 25 were admitted,six of them later shifted to the SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack.
Chief Minister Navin Patnaik, Revenue Minister Manmohan Samal, Industry Minister and local MLA B B Harichandrandrn, Transport Minister Jaynaran Mishra and Tourism Minister Debi Prasad Mishra visited the victims at the Capital hospital here.
The Chief Minister later announced that the government would bear the entire treatment cost of the injured passengers and made arrangement of the others to return to their village.
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