The woman IT professional, Bhanu Rekha, who died as the tourist vehicle she was travelling in got stuck in a flooded underpass in Bengaluru was new to the city, her grieving family members told The Quint.
Rekha’s brother Sandeep Batula told The Quint, "She had moved to Bengaluru just three months ago. Other family members went to Bengaluru to visit her during the summer vacation."
The 22-year-old woman died in Bengaluru on Sunday, 21 May, after heavy rains and hailstorm submerged the KR Circle underpass. Rekha, who was travelling with her family in a car, got trapped in the flooded vehicle and was stuck in neck-deep water.
Rekha was employed with Infosys over the past seven months, but was first working from home in Krishna district and later moved to Mysuru for on-campus training. She moved to Bengaluru in January 2023, and was living in the city in a rented apartment, Batula said.
Rekha's family is still based in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh. Her brother too is a software engineer who works for a New Zealand-based company.
While the accident occurred on 21 May, media reports had suggested that Rekha was not given medical care soon after she was moved to a nearby private hospital. Her family, however, said they were not aware of any such negligence.
A relative, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Quint, "We reached Bengaluru only around 11 pm on Sunday, after we heard of the accident. We do not know if she got proper treatment at the hospital."
Meanwhile, an FIR has been registered against the driver and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials under Section 304A (death caused due to negligence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
'The Car Was Hired Eight Hours Prior to the Accident'
"As family members were visiting, she hired a vehicle and took them out sightseeing. Cubbon Park was their last stop, and they were returning home when the accident happened," Batula told The Quint.
When the car approached the underpass, an auto was trailing behind the car, the driver, whose name was not mentioned in the FIR and whose identity is not yet ascertained, said in a purported video sourced by The Quint.
"A car and an autorickshaw crossed the underpass right in front of us. There was an autorickshaw behind us and the driver of the auto asked me to go ahead and I did," the driver said in the purported video. According to the driver, the car submerged within minutes of entering the underpass.
According to Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, though barricades had been placed to block traffic from entering the underpass, they had fallen over due to the heavy rains and wind. Not seeing the barricades, the driver entered the underpass and the tragedy unfolded, he added.
The fire and rescue services that reached the spot used ladders to rescue the family. While two women climbed up the ladder, Rekha was rescued using a lifebuoy ring around her. As per the personnel, five of the seven people were atop the car. Rekha, however, was stuck inside.
According to Batula, the car which met with the accident was hired for eight hours prior to the accident.
Siddaramaiah, who visited the hospital, told the media that according to the doctors, Bhanu Rekha was brought dead to the hospital. He has also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family of the deceased.