Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Athmallick, Sep 11:
Police today arrested the driver of the ill-fated bus that skidded off a bridge near Puruna Manitri in Odisha’s Angul district on Friday in which 19 persons were killed and more than 50 others injured.
The driver identified as Birendra Behera who was absconding after the accident was nabbed from near Athmallick College, informed Angul ASP Pradip Mishra.
“Driver Birendra Behera was arrested today. We had been tracking him. He was nabbed by the special team which chased him while was travelling on a bike on Athmallick-Sambalpur road. He has confessed that he was absent-minded as he was speaking on his mobile phone. After the incident, he had left for Boudh and had perhaps come to Athmallick to consult a lawyer. We will produce him before the court tomorrow,” informed Mishra.
The police had registered an FIR against him at the Athmallick police station.
It may be noted here that a bus ‘Maharaja’ carrying around 70 passengers from Boudh to Athmallick plunged into the dry river bed from a bridge near Puruna Manitri about 3 km from Athmallick bus stand on Friday morning at around 10 AM.
While 12 people died on the spot, four died in Athmallick hospital and three others succumbed in Angul hospital.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had ordered Angul Collector for conducting a probe into the tragedy.
The four-member administrative team which included local RTO, Sub-Collector and Sub-Divisional Medical Officer in its preliminary inquiry report submitted to Collector Anil Kumar Samal on Saturday is learnt to have observed that reckless driving might have led to the tragedy.