HYDERABAD: Volvo, manufacturers of thousands of buses running on Indian roads, said the blaze that charred to death 45 passengers on the Bangalore-Hyderabad bus, might not have been caused by a fuel tank explosion, forcing authorities to look at other angles.
Volvo India’s spokesperson said the fuel tank in the bus was not made of metal but roto-molded plastic, which rarely explodes under pressure. Unlike metal fuel tanks, which get compressed and explode due to built up pressure, the plastic fuel tank only cracks, spilling the fuel but not causing a massive explosion, a company spokesperson said.
“We have not heard of a fuel tank burst causing fire in any of our buses as of now. We need to probe further into the cause of the Mahbubnagar fire. Two officials are at it already,” the spokesperson told TOI.
The bus carrying 50 passengers from Bangalore went up in flames in the early hours of Wednesday and only seven people came out alive from the inferno. Authorities retrieved the bodies and shipped them to a hospital in Hyderabad for DNA tests.
“Right now, officials on ground are looking at all possibilities including wiring problems, engine errors and presence of chemical explosives in the bus’s trunk. We’ll not leave out any angle,” the spokesperson said. Volvo’s investigation could continue for more than two days, officials said.
Volvo, which has been manufacturing buses in the country for the past 10 years, said they have come across only three cases of buses going up in flames in India, and none of the fires were caused by fuel tank explosion. The company’s buses are manufactured in a factory near Bangalore.
Preliminary investigation carried out by the fire brigade showed a “metal fuel tank burst” as cause as the remains of the tank were not found. But after Volvo clarified, the fire department officials said the tank could have leaked after the collision. “We are not ruling out the possibility of a fuel tank leak, as sparks from the collision could have caused the fire,” P Giridhar Reddy, district fire officer, Mahbubnagar, said.
“Now we think the plastic tank could have melted in the fire,” Reddy added.
When asked about the speculation of combustible material being present inside the bus, Reddy said that when the fire tenders reached the spot there was no smell of any explosive material. “If there were any such material, the fumes would give out a peculiar odour,” Reddy said. But samples have been sent to the forensic lab, they informed. “The actual cause of fire can be determined only after the forensic investigation,” he said.