The Tirupur city police have apprehended 38-year-old Hemaraj, the driver of the Bharath Benz container lorry which collided into a Volvo bus of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (Kerala RTC) on Thursday morning. Twenty people were killed and nine passengers injured in the accident that took place at 3.15 am in Avinashi.
Investigating officials who have conducted an enquiry with the driver tell TNM that he claims to have lost control of vehicle, leading to the collision. He had absconded following the accident and was later secured by the police in Perundurai, Erode. According to the police, when the lorry hit a median, its container detached from the vehicle and rammed into the bus on the opposite side, completely crushing the right wing of the bus. However police are investigating further to understand the alleged loss of control of the vehicle.
"There are two explanations for this," says Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) V Badrinarayanan. "Either he has dozed off and lost control of the vehicle or a tyre has burst leading to the crash into the median. He says he does not know how he lost control but this is where a third may be brought into consideration," he adds.
According to the police, the container lorry which was carrying floor tiles was overloaded.
"When the vehicle is overloaded, even if you lose concentration for a minute it will be difficult to bring it back into control," says the DCP. "We will be ascertaining exactly what the ceiling length of such a consignment is and what the regulations say it can be. The driver is skilled and has a heavy vehicle license," he adds.
The Regional Transport office is currently examining the lorry to determine the cause for the crash. They will also be determining if there was a tyre burst or the tyres were destroyed in the accident.
Most of the deceased were from Kerala - Thrissur, Palakkad and Ernakulam districts. The bus left Bengaluru at 8 pm on Wednesday and was supposed to reach Ernakulam at 7 am the next morning.
"There were 48 passengers on the bus. Twenty-five were travelling to Thrissur, others to Ernakulam and Palakkad. Conductor of the bus died. Those who are injured are in critical condition," Thajudheen, District Transport Officer, Ernakulam, Kerala RTC, told TNM.