The Mizoram Police have arrested one person who allegedly lit a lighter in the middle of the road near a Tank Lorry which claimed 11 lives in the Turial area of Aizawl district in the state.
According to the police, at 4:35 pm on October 29, one Tank Lorry carrying 22,000 litres of petrol that was supposed to be delivered at Champhai met with an accident within the vicinity of Tuirial Airfield by turning turtle on the main road, thus spilling petrol out from the tanker on the surface of the road. A lot of people had gathered to collect and store the spilt petrol when it suddenly caught fire around 5.50 pm and four people lost their life on the spot.
The police party and fire tenders immediately reached the spot to bring down the raging fire after the injured persons were immediately taken to various hospitals for treatment.
"The Place of Occurrence (PO) was minutely inspected with the help of FSL (Forensic Science Laboratory) Team. Prima facie, it appeared that the cause of the accident the truck was rash and negligent driving on the part of the driver and when the people started collecting the spilling petrol, someone apparently lit a lighter or was smoking, etc., which ignited the highly inflammable petrol, resulting in the very unfortunate and tragic accident leading to loss and severe burn injuries to precious human lives," the police said in its statement.
Bawngkawn Police immediately proceeded with the investigation and based on the information from a reliable source, the police arrested one person identified as TBC Lallawmawma (28) of the Tuirial at midnight of November 1.
"During sustained interrogation, the accused admitted his guilt on the morning of 2.11.2022 at about 11:00 am, stating that on a fateful day, he went to collect the spilling petrol from the Tank Lorry; however, as there was a huge crowd engaged in collecting the spilling petrol and due to the chaos, he was unable to get enough petrol. Infuriated, he came out in the middle of the road and lit a lighter and exposed it to a plastic water bottle containing some quantity of petrol collected by him and being carried by him, just to test whether it could burn or not," the police said.
As the petrol caught fire, he threw the burning bottle on the ground which eventually resulted in the big fire accident, it added.
The police also mentioned that after the accused reached his home and came to know about the casualties, guilty he, tried to end his life by hanging from a tree nearby his house. However, when his friend and wife saw him, they rescued him by unfastening the noose.
The police said that the accused has been forwarded to judicial custody on November 3, after observing all legal formalities under sections 279, 285, 304A, 336, 337, 338, 435 of the Indian Penal Code and section 184 of the Motor Vehicles act.
The total death toll due to the fire incident has reached 11 till date, including the four persons who died on the spot while seven others are still undergoing treatment.
"The person who lit a lighter in the middle of the road near the Tank Lorry was rounded up. He admitted to his guilt on November 2 stating that it was done inadvertently," it said further adding that the accused has been arrested and sent to judicial custody.
As per the police's information on the day of the incident on October 29, a four-wheeler taxi and two two-wheelers also got damaged.
"At least four people died and 10 others were injured in a fire incident in Tuirial, Aizawl district, after a tanker carrying petrol caught fire. A four-wheeler tax and two two-wheelers also got damaged in the accident," Aizawl Superintendent of Police C Lalruaia said on October 29.
(With Inputs from ANI)