The private bus, proceeding to Hyderabad from Bangalore, caught fire after hitting a culvert around 5.20 a.m. near Palem in Kottakota mandal, about 150 km from here.
Besides the driver and cleaner, only five passengers escaped the horrific disaster. The injured passengers were shifted to a hospital in Hyderabad. Police are questioning the driver and cleaner.
Flames engulfed the bus in no time as its diesel tank burst after hitting the culvert, Mahabubnagar superintendent of police Nagendra Kumar said, quoting witnesses.
The passengers were asleep when the accident took place, leaving no time for them to escape. The victims were charred beyond recognition.
According to a survivor, some people broke the windows to jump out. But others were not lucky. He said the door was also locked, leaving no escape route for most passengers.
Four bodies were handed over to their relatives after they were identified by wrist watch, rings and other ornaments on them. The remaining bodies were shifted to the Osmania Hospital in Hyderabad Wednesday evening. Officials said they would be identified with the help of DNA test.
Police have asked relatives of the victims to approach the Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Laboratory in Hyderabad to give their DNA samples. They may contact on number: 040-23307138.
Initially, there was confusion on the number of passengers in the bus, which left Bangalore at 10 p.m. Tuesday and was scheduled to reach Hyderabad at 6.30 a.m.
Transport Minister Botsa Satyanarayana told reporters in Hyderabad that 45 people were killed. He said the Volvo bus, belonging to Jabbar Travels, had a capacity for 43 passengers but was carrying 50 people.
Preliminary investigation by police revealed that speeding caused the accident. Police booked a case against Jabbar Travels and detained its manager in Hyderabad.
Heart-rending scenes were witnessed at the scene as rescue workers found the body of a child on a mother's lap. Both were charred. They were identified as Jabeen Fatima and her daughter, Uzma, six. Jabeen's husband Azmatullah also died in the mishap. The family hailed from Dabeerpura in the old city of Hyderabad.
The dead included four women and a child. Majority of the victims were in their 20s and 30s. They included software professionals, some of whom were coming home to celebrate Diwali with their family members.
Mahabubnagar district collector M. Girija Shankar said five passengers were shifted to the DRDO Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad. The condition of one of them is stated to be critical.
Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy directed the district collector and superintendent of police to conduct a thorough investigation.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Kiran Reddy and other political leaders of Andhra Pradesh expressed shock and anguish over the deaths.
Tourism Minister K. Chiranjeevi also visited the scene. One victim was Venkatesh, president of Chiranjeevi fans' association. He was coming to Hyderabad to invite the actor-turned-politician to his sister's marriage.
--IANS (Posted on 30-10-2013)