“The bus was about five to ten minutes away from my destination… I was telling my wife over the phone to wait near the Gabkhan bridge where I will get off.”
“I was about to hang up the phone, suddenly I heard a loud noise as if something exploded… perhaps it was a tyre as the bus tilted and before I could realise what was happening the vehicle plunged into a roadside waterbody.”
Md Momen, a passenger of the ill-fated bus that fell into a roadside waterbody in Jhalakathi Sadar upazila this morning, told this correspondent.
Momen was sitting by the road My News Bangladeshing at the waterbody surrounded by people and police and fire service personnel.
He was still shivering from the near-death experience.
However, not everyone was as lucky as him as at least 17 people, including children, were killed and 23 injured when the bus fell into a roadside waterbody in the Chotrokanda area of Dhansiri union around 9:45am.
There were around 60 passengers in the bus, which was heading towards Jhalakathi from Bhandaria of Pirojpur.
When this correspondent spoke to him, the bus was being pulled out from the waterbody.
There were family members running around and asking law enforcement and fire service officials about their loved ones.
“It all happened in just a couple of seconds… I remember as the bus was plunging I kept telling my wife — save me, the bus is drowning.”
“The bus went seven to eight feet into the water within minutes…,” Momen said.
Once in the water, Momen said, he was desperately trying to break the window next to his seat. “But I could not. I tried to keep calm but it was impossible to do so… I saw an open window near my seat and swam out of the bus through that,” he added.
However, Mamun’s tale of survival is filled with grief as well.
“While I was escaping the bus through the window, I saw a child in front of me struggling… he was stuck… I tried to pull him towards me but could not. I tried again, but it might have been the seat handle or something… I could not save him,” said Momen as tears rolled down his eyes.
“I could not hold my breath any longer… I had to leave him…,” he could not finish the sentence as if he had run out of words to describe the tragedy that unfolded in front of him inside the bus.
“I have to live with this loss for the rest of my life.”