School bus catches fire in Delhi, students escape (Lead)

New Delhi, Nov 26 ( A school bus ferrying students caught fire in east Delhi Thursday morning, injuring the driver and the conductor. The students escaped unharmed.

According to police officials, the incident occurred because of a compressed natural gas (CNG) leak in the bus.

“It was a CNG-run Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus which caught fire at 8 a.m. near Mayur Vihar in east Delhi. While the details of the fire are yet to be ascertained, it mostly likely happened because of a gas leakage,” a police official said.

A fire brigade official added: “While no student has been injured, the driver and conductor of the bus were caught in the flames and have been admitted to Dharamsheela hospital.”

Sitting on the hospital bed and with his face bandaged, Dinesh Chandra, the bus conductor, said that while he managed to alert the students who escaped, he could not save himself from the fire and neither did the driver.

“I got a sense that there may be a gas leak in the bus and went about to check. Immediately I alerted the students and told them to run. While they managed to escape, in all the commotion the driver and I got stuck in the fire and were injured,” Chandra said.

“I am still in a position to talk, but the driver has suffered grievous injuries,” he added.

The principal of Evergreen School, whose students were in the bus, said that although shocked, the children were safe and sound.

“The driver and conductor alerted the teacher in the bus of some problem, following which she took all the kids out to safety. It’s because of her presence of mind that the kids are safe,” Priyanka Gulati, the principal said.

“The children were nevertheless taken to the hospital to check for any injury, but they are fine,” she added.

According to the school management there were 35 students in the bus.

Scared that the incident could have had worse consequences, parents and guardians of the students lashed out saying that authorities need to be more careful, especially when it concerns children.

Maheshwar Sharma, a parent of one of the student’s who was in the bus said: “While the school administration is not alone at fault — the bus owners too must ensure that the vehicle used to ferry students is in good condition — the school should ensure that the safety norms are followed and regular checks done.”