, MUMBAI, Jan 25 – An Indian bus driver left at least nine people dead and dozens hurt on Wednesday after going on a rampage during rush-hour, smashing into cars and crushing pedestrians, police told AFP.
The rogue driver hijacked the vehicle in a depot and then sped down the crowded streets of central Pune in western India as children headed to school and office employees made their way to work.
The half-hour wrecking spree came to a halt only when members of the public wrestled him from the controls after he rammed into another bus. He has since been detained and interrogated by police.
“He just went berserk. He went on ramming whatever vehicles were plying the road,” the city’s commissioner of police, Meeran Borwankar, told local television.
“Citizens came forward and literally threw children (out of the way). He was in such a dangerous mood. Ultimately he was held (by police) but the damage has been tremendous.”
An officer in the local police control room told AFP that nine people had been killed and 27 injured. Some 40 vehicles were left mangled, with cars damaged and autorickshaws overturned.
“He was a nut-case, he had completely lost his head,” said the officer, who asked not to be named.
“Most of the damage was to parked taxis, private vehicles, cycles and stalls.”
Identified by police as 30-year-old Santosh Mane, he was confirmed as a licensed driver and employee of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC).
“This is very unfortunate. We are unsure what state of mind he was in when he committed the act,” V.V. Ratnaparkhi, a senior official at the MSRTC, told AFP.
Witnesses described their horror as the bus careened through the streets. The Press Trust of India reported that police fired 10 shots during their pursuit of the vehicle.
“Whoever came in his way, he just rammed into them,” one witness told NDTV television.
Another said: “I was out jogging, there was a noise, I jumped immediately that is why I was saved. This is my second life, I would have been dead.”