Six software engineers among bus fire victims

Six software engineers were among 45 people burnt alive when a Volvo bus caught fire near Palem in Mahbubnagar district, 140 km from Hyderabad on Bangalore-Hyderabad National Highway, Wednesday early morning. The others killed included sales and marketing executives and businessmen, all aged 25-32 years.

The police said driver of the bus belonging to Jabbar Travels of Bangalore lost control trying to overtake a car and hit a culvert. The impact ruptured its fuel tank and the bus caught fire. As diesel spilled, the blaze engulfed the entire bus within minutes. The driver and his assistant escaped unhurt, while five passengers sitting in front received minor burns. They are undergoing treatment at DRDO Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad.

Mahbubnagar SP Nagendra Kumar said most passengers were possibly asleep when the accident occurred. "Villagers in nearby areas say the bus caught fire between 5.15 am and 5.30 am. As the fire spread quickly, they could not help. All bodies are charred beyond recognition," he said.

Kothakota Circle Inspector S Venkatesh, who questioned the driver, Fairoz Ahmed, said the bus with the registration AP02 TA 0963 was speeding. "Only one of the 45 bodies may be identified. The remaining have to be sent for DNA-testing (to Hyderabad)," he said.

Among the software engineers killed was Adaru Ravi (27). The Vizianagaram resident was waiting in Bangalore for an offer letter from KT&T, where he had attended an interview last week. When the letter did not arrive Tuesday, Ravi decided in the evening to take up a job at Accenture in Hyderabad and boarded the ill-fated bus, his friend L Shiv Prasad said.

Shamima Begum woke up Wednesday morning expecting to see her son Farood Ali, also a software engineer with IBM. After boarding the bus Tuesday night, he had called and told her he would call again after getting down at Hyderabad.

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