At least 19 people were killed and 30 others injured on Sunday when a speeding bus crashed into a ditch in Bangladesh, officials said.
The Dhaka-bound bus operated by Emad Paribahan veered out of control on the Bangabandhu Expressway at 7.45 am in Madaripur's Shibchar, Police Superintendent Md Masud Alam said.
The bodies of 14 people have been recovered from the spot, according to Madaripur Deputy Commissioner Rahima Khatun.
She said that three others died on their way to hospitals.
The injured, many in critical condition, were shifted to Shibchar Upazila Health Complex and Dhaka Medical College Hospital for treatment, she said.
The on-duty doctor at the DMCH declared two more dead.
Many of the victims were from Madaripur as the bus from Khulna took passengers aboard in Madaripur.
“It is believed that the bus went out of control after one of its tyres was punctured. The front to mid portions of the bus sustained severe damage after the vehicle fell into the ditch,” said Shiplu Ahmed, deputy assistant director of the Fire Service and Civil Defence in Faridpur.
"The accident tumbled the bus some 30 feet into the ditch,” a local journalist said from Shibchar, the scene of the accident which is nearly 80 kilimetres from Dhaka.
SP Md Masud Alam said it was the gravest accident on the expressway since the launch of the Padma Bridge. “The bus accident is believed to have been caused by technical issues and speeding."
The official said the process of handing over dead bodies was underway.
A committee has been formed to investigate the incident and it will submit its report within two days, Khatun said.
The families of the dead will get Tk 25,000 each from the government to meet burial and other costs and the injured will receive Tk 5,000 each, she added.
According to a report in the Daily Star, the bus was operating without any clearance for three months.
The fitness clearance of the vehicle -- Dhaka Metro Ba-15-3348 -- expired in January this year, sources at Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) told the paper.
The bus, however, had a valid route permit and tax token, the sources said.
Meanwhile, the Highway Police suspected that speeding may have been one of the reasons behind the accident.
"We think the bus was speeding and the driver could not control the bus after one of its tyres leaked," said Taimur Islam, officer-in-charge of Bhanga Highway Police Station, who rushed to the spot after the accident.
"Everything will be revealed after investigation," he said, adding that speeding was rampant on this expressway, particularly in the area where the accident took place.
Md Sabuj Khan, the counter man of the Shonadanga bus counter, told the newspaper that the Emad Paribahan bus left for Dhaka with more than 43 passengers.
Road accidents are common in Bangladesh due to old and badly maintained vehicles and roads, as well as poorly trained drivers.
The South Asian country is one of the countries having worst road crash records.
According to Bangladeshi Passengers’ Welfare Association, a record 9,951 people were killed in road accidents last year.
Experts say reckless driving is the main cause of most accidents.
A massive student protest, sparked by the death of two teenagers in 2018, forced Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government to raise the maximum prison time to five years from three for causing death by rash driving.