Five persons were charred to death and six injured when an overloaded bus from West Bengal, carrying 80 pilgrims, caught fire after a gas cylinder exploded on board at Tiruppullani, police said.
The bus was gutted in the mishap that occurred late last night when the pilgrims were en route to Kanyakumari after visiting Tirupati and Rameswaram.
Police said the driver of the bus had noticed a spark at the back of the bus through the rear view mirror and had immediately stopped the bus, and asked the passengers to get down. Suddenly one of the two LPG cylinders on board exploded and the fire spread fast helped by strong winds blowing through the coastal area.
The driver of the bus and a tourist guide Srinivasan from Tirukallukundram helped several passengers to get down but 11 persons were trapped by smoke and fire at the rear.
Police said five of them–Viswanath Dass (68) Viswanath Mandal (78), Gopal (70), Durga Sinide (50) and Malathi Nayaki (60) were killed, while six others who were injured had been admitted to the government hospital where the condition of two persons is stated to be serious.
Officials said the bus was overloaded and the 80 passengers, hailing from districts like Hooghly and Midnapore districts, had left West Bengal on August 22.