TAXILA: A total of 11 people were killed and 33 injured when a speeding bus skid off the M-1 (the Peshawar-Islamabad motorway) near Brahma interchange in the limits of the Wah Saddar police early on Thursday.
National Highway and Motorway Police (NHMP) sources said a Lahore-bound passenger bus with 49 people on board was travelling from Swat. They said that at around 2:30am, the bus driver lost control of the vehicle because its brakes failed due to heavy rain, causing the bus to hit a truck from the rear, turn over and skid off the motorway into a roadside ditch.
Ten people, including a minor, died immediately and one passenger who was shifted to Rawalpindi with critical head injuries also died. Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) Hospital medical superintendent Dr Syedia Hooria Mohsin told the press that 10 bodies were brought to the hospital.
She said 33 passengers were taken to hospitals in Taxila, Wah and Rawalpindi. The deceased have been identified as Sakina Begum, Noreem Umer, Kinzaul Eman, Khalid Shahzad, Saifur Rehman, Ijaz Khan, Mohammad Niaz, Taj Malook and Fareed Khan.
Two other deceased individuals have not yet been identified, Dr Mohsin said.
She added that three injured passengers were taken to the District Headquarters Hospital in Rawalpindi, three to Holy Family Hospital, eight to THQ Hospital Hassanabdal and one to THQ Hospital Taxila.
Potohar division Superintendent of Police (SP) Syed Ali visited the site of the accident. He said the police have filed a case against the driver and arrested him, adding that it seemed he had “consumed hashish” at the time of the bus crash.
NHMP Deputy Inspector General of Police Ishfar Ahmed said the accident occurred in the early hours of Thursday, while it was raining.
He said the deceased mainly belong to Lahore, Nankana Sahib and Swat. There were 49 passengers on board the bus at the time of the crash, he said, and quoted several eyewitnesses as saying that the driver was continuously using his mobile phone while driving and allegedly did not pay heed when some passengers asked him not to.
Mr Ahmed held the driver responsible for the accident. Following the accident, he also ordered speed cameras to be installed every 500 meters on the Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway.
Imran Anjum, a 33-year-old victim of the accident admitted to THQ Hospital Hassanabdal told Dawn the bus left Mingora city around 9pm on Wednesday for Lahore.
He claimed the bus driver was continuously talking on the phone from that time until the accident, despite warnings from some passengers.
Another injured passenger, 36-year-old Murad Ali, who is being treated at the THQ Hospital Taxila, also blamed the bus driver. He said the driver was on his mobile phone and drove the whole way using just one hand.
Kiran, a 32-year-old tourist from Lahore who was also injured, while speaking to the press at THQ Hospital Hassanabdal urged the NHMP to monitor drivers to discourage mobile phone use while driving.
NHMP sources said the driver was also slightly injured.
He has been arrested and handed over to the Wah Saddar police for further legal action.
Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2019