A techie died after the car she was travelling in entered a flooded underpass at K R Circle in the heart of Bengaluru Sunday.
The deceased has been identified as Bhanurekha, 22, who was employed at Infosys. The accident occurred after heavy rain pounded the city Sunday afternoon. Seven people were in the vehicle, and six were rescued by locals.
Bhanurekha was rushed to the nearby St Martha’s Hospital, but was declared dead by doctors. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah visited the hospital and declared ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of the victim.
Speaking to reporters, Siddaramaiah said that the family hailed from Vijayawada. “They had rented a car and were touring the city. Including the driver, there were seven people. There was a barricade to prevent people from entering the underpass. But the barricade had fallen over due to rain. The driver could have avoided the underpass. Yet, he entered it,” he said.
Once the vehicle travelled further into the underpass, water levels rose to the glass level of the SUV, owing to which the passengers were unable to open the doors. Bhanurekha died after drowning in the inundated underpass.
“When they brought her to the hospital, they performed an ECG. She was declared dead at the hospital,” Siddaramaiah said.
The underpass at K R Circle – close to Vidhana Soudha and Vikasa Soudha – declines to a depth of around seven to eight metre at its lowest point.
According to driver Harish, the group decided to return to Byrathi Nagar, Hosur Road after visiting Cubbon Park once the rainfall stopped. “Two vehicles – a car and an auto – had passed through just before we entered the underpass. Another auto driver, who was in front of the car, stopped. If he had gone right behind the two vehicles, then I could have passed too. He waited for a bit and then asked me to go ahead of him,” he said.
Within a minute or two of the car getting stuck in the flooded underpass, the engine turned off. Locals, the police, and fire personnel quickly reached the spot but those inside the vehicle screamed in panic, a police official said. Ladders were lowered to help those rescued climb out of the underpass. “While six were rescued, the woman died as she took too much water in,” the official said.
Meanwhile, there were complaints that the staff at the hospital the victim was rushed to did not respond on time causing her death. Siddaramaiah said hospital authorities denied the charge of delaying treatment but action would be taken if they were found to have violated norms.
Even after the accident, eyewitnesses said that vehicles continued to enter the flooded underpass as barricades were not put up. An autorickshaw driver and a passenger had to be rescued by fire and emergency service personnel shortly after the accident. Two bikes and another auto had also entered the underpass, but stopped and turned back.
Rainfall coupled with hail and heavy wind lashed the city since afternoon, uprooting several trees and inundating a few localities. Water entered houses in some low-lying areas of Mahalakshmi Layout and there were also instances where tree branches fell on vehicles due to heavy wind.