Maila Tamang, the driver of an ill-fated bus (Ba 2 Kha) that slipped off the road killing 15 people Wednesday morning, had been making advances at a lady passenger while passing through Bhotang VDC of Sindhupalchok district.
Enraged by Tamang´s behavior, other passengers reprimanded him, which led to a heated debate. Tamang, apparently furious at being told-off, began driving recklessly. At times, he would over-speed while he would slow down the next moment. He continued to argue with passengers until his bus fell nearly 200 meters down the road.
As the bus got stuck in a cliff in Salle Danda of Thangpalkot VDC-1 after skidding off the road, 11 passengers died on the spot. While one died after being rescued, three others died while undergoing treatment at various places. As many as 32 passengers were injured in the accident. Of them, 20 are said to be in critical condition. However, Tamang survived by jumping out of the window before the bus plunged.
“We wonder how the bus slipped off the road. The point of the road from where the bus slipped was wide enough. And the condition of the road was also good,” Binod KC, a local teacher who rescued several injured passengers said, hinting that the driver, in a fit of anger, might have deliberately caused the accident. “We cannot believe it was just an accident,” he said.
Survivors of the accident say either the driver might have deliberately caused the bus to plunge or accidently lost control. They say the driver looked tense following the dispute. However, the police have yet not yet concluded as to what led to the accident.
The dead have been identified as Chhote Tamang (20), of Gunsa VDC-8 in Sindhupalchok; Rabi Thing and Bhim Thing, of Baruwa VDC-8, Sinem Lama (30), Norki Lama and Sitamaya Tamang, of Bhotang VDC-2; Deu Tamang, of Bhotang VDC-5; Chhiring Lamang, of Bhotang VDC-9; Kngima Sherpa, of Jyamire VDC-7; Mithu Sapkota (27), of Thangpalkot VDC-5; Nima Gyalmo Tamang (42), of Thangpalkot VDC-6, Pitadevi Basnet (24), Ranbahadur Pandit (45), and Sabina Pandit (21), of Thangpalkot VDC-3 and Buddhe Tamang of Bhotang VDC 3. They were all heading for Melamchi bazaar of Sindhupalchok and Kathmandu.
As no ambulance was able to reach the accident site due to poor condition of Melamchi-Bhotang road, a Nepali Army (NA) helicopter had to airlift all the injured to Kathmandu.