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30 years on, revisiting the Chammanad bus accident that claimed 37 lives

The accident that shook the state took place on 5 February 1994 near Union High School at Chammanad in Alappuzha district. It was reported that the accident was caused by a collision between a KSRTC bus and a truck.

30 years on, revisiting the Chammanad bus accident  that claimed 37 lives rkn
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First Published Feb 6, 2024, 10:29 AM IST

Aroor: 30 years have passed since the Chammanad tragedy happened where the highest number of people died in a road accident in Kerala. PN Prasannan, who made the first police report on the incident still remembers the black day. The accident that shook the state took place on 5 February 1994 near Union High School at Chammanad in Alappuzha district. Aroor police constable Prasannan received a call regarding the incident around 1 pm.

It was reported that the accident was caused by a collision between a KSRTC bus and a truck. Prasannan rushed to the incident spot. A KSRTC fast passenger bus, which was going from Thrissur to Attingal, and a truck, which was going to Indore in Madhya Pradesh, collided on the national highway. When the bus swerved to the right to save the cyclist who was in front of the bus, the bus rammed into the diesel tank of the truck.

Due to the impact of heavy pressure, the front part of the bus was destroyed and the diesel tank burst and spread all over the place. Due to the spark of fire, both of the vehicles got burnt. Prasannan remembered that around 37 people died in the bus carrying 103 passengers including children from Thiruvananthapuram Balamandhiram and Balikamandhiram.

The bodies of 26 people were identified at that time and 9 unidentified bodies were cremated in Cherthala Municipal Crematorium. Six people were identified within 6 months. However, even after three decades, the bodies of three people have not been identified. Prasannan had written 3000 pages of FIR in his handwriting and received recognition from the Chief of Police last year.

He retired in 2011 while working as the Principal SI at Poochakkal Police Station. CD Azad, a teacher at Chammanad ECEK Union High School, was the first to arrive at the accident site and will never forget that day. It was time for the school anniversary celebration. When Azad and the guardians in the school heard a loud noise, they went to the location. When Azad glanced, he noticed a ten-year-old girl crying in the middle of the bus. Azad recalled how he saved the girl without looking back and raced into the classroom to give her first aid. The next day, it was discovered that the girl's father had caught fire inside the bus.

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