Kasaragod: Four female passengers and the driver died on the spot in a head-on collision between their autorickshaw and a school bus in Kasaragod's Badiadka grama panchayat Monday evening.
The deceased were identified as sisters Umaliuma (55) wife of Ismail Kadavath, Beefathima (50) wife of Usman Mogar, and Nabeesa (49) wife of Abbas Belloor, their aunt Beefathima (72) wife of Sheikh Ali Kadavath, and the auto driver A H Abdul Rauf (64).
Driver of the bus has been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The women are residents of Mogar in Mogral Puthur grama panchayat. The accident happened 25 km from their village at Pallathadka in Badiadka grama panchayat, said police.
The women were returning from the house of their relative K N Abdul Rahman (73), who died on Monday, Nekraje.
While returning, they reached Badiadka and took that Badiadka-Perla road instead of Badiadka-Kasaragod road, said Mahin Kelot, IUML leader of Badiadka. "It appears like they lost their way," he said.
After crossing Pallathadka, the autorickshaw took a sharp right and was climbing a steep when it collided with the bus of Global Public School on Cherkala- Adkasthala State Highway. "The road is under construction. It has been asphalted once but there is no signage or markings. The bus was returning after dropping the students," said Abdul Hameed, Badiadka panchayat member of Pallathadka ward.
He was one of the first to reach the accident site. "I was 10 minutes away from the accident site when a resident called me and told about the accident," he said.
When he said he was coming right away, the caller asked him to come with ambulance. "He told me one or two ambulances are not enough. Come with five," Hameed said.
In 15 minutes, Hameed reached the site with four ambulances. "There was a small crowd around the mangled autorickshaw taking videos," he said. Three women were on the road. The auto driver Rauf's right arm was severed. A woman lost her leg. The rest suffered brutal injuries. "In one look, I knew all of them were dead," said Hameed.
Umaliuma is survived by husband Ismail Kadavath, son Azharuddin and Sana, a Class 12 student.
Beefathima Usman is survived by her husband Usman and three daughters Mumtaz (44), Muneera (30) and Mubasheer (29).
Nabeesa Abbas is survived by her husband Abbas B A, and adult children Fouzia, Fayiza, Famiza, Nishana and Murthala. The family lives in Belloor panchayat.
Their aunt Beefathima is survived by seven children. Her husband Sheikh Ali died 12 years ago.
Rauf was a commercial vehicle driver in Dubai for years. He started driving autorickshaw in Kasaragod one year ago, said Muthalib, a neighbour. He is survived by wife Ramla, and daughters Raifa (24), Raina (26) and son Rahees (22).
Design flaw, human error?
Design flaw of the road and human error could be the reasons for the accident, said Saju Francis, Regional Transport Officer (Enforcement).
The autorickshaw was climbing with five persons, so it cannot be speeding, he said. On the contrary, the school bus was hurtling down the skope, going by the impact of the crash. "The school bus driver may not have seen the auto because of the gradient," he said.
Also, there were no signage and safety markings on the road, and the two vehicles were on the middle of the road. "For all the flaws of the road, the accident could have been avoided had the drivers been careful, particularly the school bus driver because he takes the road almost daily," the officer said.