Pernem, Jan 17: A boisterous holiday turned tragic for a 22-member Gujarati joint family when 12 of them died and 10 others suffered injuries in an accident on NH-17 at Malpem-Pernem today. A thirteenth person Mohan Krishna Shrigoankar, resident of Shrigao-Asnora, was charred to death on the spot in the mishap.
The horrific accident took place at about 1.30 pm when a Panjim bound tanker travelling at a high speed rammed and then ran over a Gujarat bound minibus at Malpem-Pernem. The tanker carrying industrial chemicals was trying to negotiate a sharp turn when it rammed against the minibus owned by Ashoka Travels from Gujarat.
Later, the tanker collided against a Tata tipper that was following the minibus. The severity of the collision was such that the tipper tank burst into flames, charring to death its driver Mohan Krishna Shrigoankar on the spot. In fact, the body of the tipper got severed from its engine due to the impact of the crash. Besides, a second truck that was following the first one also met with the same fate.
Police said the tanker had two registration numbers on its number plate viz MH.04 BU-9870 and MH.04CA-1907, arousing suspicion.
On hearing the sound of collision and cries of the injured, local residents rushed to the spot and helped in shifting the injured to hospital.
On being informed, Pernem police and fire service personnel rushed to spot, doused the fire and shifted the dead and injured to hospital. Fire tenders from Mapusa also rushed to the spot and helped in putting off the fire.
The mishap disrupted the traffic for quite some time before the police cleared the road of the burnt out and mangled wreckages of the vehicles.
The families of the deceased persons have been informed of the incident and they are expected to arrive in State on Thursday morning.
Police gave the names of the dead as: Mamta Patel, Shivam Patel, Nikunj Patel, Anand Patel, Nilam Patel, Falguni Patel, Dhruv Patel, Vidhi Patel, Nilesh Patel, Devangini Patel, Mohan Shirgaonkar. The bodies of the deceased are being preserved in GMC Bambolim.
The injured were shown as: Beeni Patel, Veena Patel, Hitesh Patel, Ritesh Patel, Bina Patel, Manoj Patel, Kishore Singh (of Rajasthan), Amol Borde. They injured are undergoing treatment in GMC.
Two bodies that were crushed under the tanker are yet to be identified, police said.
North Goa DySP Subhash Goltekar, SP (Traffic) Arvind Gawas, DySP (Traffic) Mhapne, Mapusa Deputy Collector Yatin Maralkar, Pernem Mamlatdar Gurish Shankwalkar visited the spot to take stock of the situation.
Chief Minister Digmber Kamat, North Goa MP Shripad Naik, ex-Tivim MLA Sadanand Tanavde also visited the site.
Pernem PI Nelson Albuquerque is investigating the case.
A return journey that was never to be…
The Patel family's return journey to Gujarat that started from a Calangute hotel was never to be, for death – that too a gruesome one - was lurking in the shadows at Malpem in Pernem.
The happy clan (a joint family) of around 20, hailing from Pardi tehsil, Valsad district, Motavagchippa village, was scattered when a killer tanker truck ripped open the mini-bus in which they were travelling. Within seconds half of the clan, including elders and children, were dead in the most horrific accident in Goa's road history.
Recalling the accident to this reporter, Asif Kadroli, 23, the driver of the ill-fated bus, who, unbelievably, survived the tragedy, said, "The speeding tanker just came at me and ran over the bus. At that time the family's two children were talking to me in the cabin. I just held one of them and then it was crash, boom, bang."
Both the children, whom Kadroli managed to cling to in the nick of time, are alive. The driver pointed to one of the small girls who was present in the Trauma Ward of GMC late evening.
Kadroli, who resides in Vasco said, "I was hired by the family three days back to take them to Gujarat after the driver, who brought them to Goa, was fired for drinking. It is my luck; I am alive."
The driver escaped with injuries to his right hand, minor bruises to the face and legs. He remembers that there was an Indica car and a truck behind the bus, which were also hit by the killer tanker.
Two of the deceased from the family, Nikunj and Devangini, who got married on January 10, never lived to celebrate their honeymoon. Nikunj's sister Phalguni, who was pregnant, also died. Falguni's husband, Ritesh, however, survived the ghastly mishap.