Five-year-old escapes unhurt in Goa accident


Panaji : A five-year-old girl escaped unhurt in the multiple crash, involving a chemical tanker and a bus, that Wednesday killed 12 Gujarati non-resident Indians (NRIs) and left 11 other people, including a newly-married couple, injured.

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Most of the NRIs were from Britain and France, and were travelling back to Gujarat after post-marriage celebrations in Goa.

According to family sources, the five-year-old girl escaped luckily without even a scratch.

Of the 11 injured, two were said to be in serious conditions in Goa Medical College at Bambolim, five km from here, sources said. They were the newly married couple.

Family members of those killed were expected to reach Goa later Thursday evening.

Death struck the revellers when their tourist bus collided with a tanker filled carbon methane, leading to an explosion and fire at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Virnoda-Malpem in Goa’s northernmost taluka of Pernem, close to the border with Maharashtra. The dead included the driver of a truck involved in the crash.

The victims were returning to places like Vapi and Daman in south Gujarat after their stay in Goa. They had stayed at a hotel in the beach-destination of Calangute, according to police statements here.

The police said the speeding oil tanker veered off the road at a sharp bend and collided head-on with the Gujarat-bound bus, killing 13 on the spot and injuring 11 others. After hitting the bus, the oil tanker hit a truck that was carrying gravel and following the bus. The bus was almost cut into two parts, following the collision, while the truck caught fire.

According to the police deceased included: Mamata Patel, Shivam Patel, Nikaj Patel, Jevangna Patel, Anand Patel, Neelam Patel, Phalguni Patel, Dhruv Patel (child), Vithi Patel (child), Nilesh Patel and the driver of the tipper truck, Mohan Shirgaonkar of Goa.

Those admitted to the Goa Medical College were Nipur Patel, 10, Bansi Patel, 5, Benani Patel, 11, Veena Patel, 30, Hitesh Patel, 40, Ritesh Patel, 35, Bina Patel, 29 and their driver Asif Kudrole. Kishore Singh from Rajasthan was also admitted to the hospital.

Politicians and officials visited the site of the accident, even while the state faced a political crisis, with the government on the verge of being toppled.

Meanwhile, Syngenta India Ltd., a chemical plant outside Panaji, in a statement denied that the tanker involved in the accident was carrying material for their company.

Eyewitnesses were quoted as blaming the tanker driver for rash driving.

Goa, a tourist state, has also been following a policy of industrialisation during the 1980s and early 1990s, leading to a mix of big industrial units in some areas in a state better known for its sandy beaches.