NASHIK: At least 11 persons were killed and 38 others injured as a private bus travelling to Mumbai caught fire after hitting a trailer truck in Nashik city of Maharashtra early on Saturday, officials said.
The accident took place at Nandur Naka on Nashik-Aurangabad highway around 5.15 am when the 'sleeper' bus was coming from Yavatmal in eastern Maharashtra, they said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the loss of lives in the bus tragedy and said ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh would be given to the next of kin of each deceased and the injured would be given Rs 50,000 each.
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde announced a financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh to the families of the dead and said the medical expenses of the injured would be borne by the state government.
"A luxury bus travelling to Mumbai from Yavatmal hit a trailer truck going to Pune at an intersection near Mirchi Hotel on Nashik-Aurangabad highway. Soon after ramming into the truck, the bus caught fire in which 11 passengers died," Nashik Police Commissioner Jayant Naiknavare said.
The injured persons were admitted to the District Civil Hospital and another private medical facility in Nashik, he said.
Before catching fire, the bus also hit a mini cargo van, due to which it got overturned, the commissioner added.
Another police official said 38 persons were injured in the incident.
On being alerted, the police, fire brigade and other agencies reached the spot and launched a rescue operation and the fire was doused off. However, the bus was completely gutted in the incident, he said.
Some eyewitnesses said the fire was so intense that they could not do anything to save the passengers for some time and had to stand there helplessly.
The death toll in the accident may go up as the condition of some of the injured persons is serious, the officials added.
In a tweet, PM Modi said, "Anguished by the bus tragedy in Nashik. My thoughts are with those who have lost their loved ones in this mishap. May the injured recover at the earliest. The local administration is providing all possible assistance to those affected."
"An ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh from PMNRF would be given to the next of kin of each of the deceased due to the bus fire in Nashik. The injured would be given Rs. 50,000," he added.