Auraiya (UP): At least 24 migrant workers were killed and 36 injured when a trailer rammed into a stationary truck, both carrying passengers, on a highway near Auraiya in Uttar Pradesh in the early hours of Saturday.
Some of the workers coming from Delhi had stopped for tea when the accident occurred between 3 am and 3.30 am on the Auraiya-Kanpur Dehat stretch of National Highway 19, police said.
The impact of the collision, the latest in a series of road tragedies involving migrant workers returning to their villages, was so huge that both vehicles overturned and fell into a ditch.
Most of those killed were from Jharkhand and West Bengal, and some from Kushinagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh, officials said.
While the stationary vehicle was coming from Delhi and was headed towards Madhya Pradesh, the other was coming from Rajasthan, both ferrying people who found themselves without jobs, money or food during the lockdown and were desperate to get back home.
“The accident took place when some labourers travelling on the truck (coming from Delhi) halted on the Auraiya-Kanpur Dehat Road to have tea at a local shop. At this point of time, a truck coming from Rajasthan hit the stationary vehicle, Inspector General, Kanpur, Mohit Agarwal told PTI over the phone.
Of the 36 injured, 14 have serious injuries and have been admitted to a hospital in Saifai (in Etawah district) while 22 have been hospitalised in Auraiya, about 400 km from New Delhi and 200 km from the state capital Lucknow, he said.
Expressing his condolences, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the accident as very tragic .
The government is carrying out relief work in full swing,” the prime minister tweeted.
Amongst the others who expressed their grief were BJP president J P Nadda, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
According to Auraiya Circle Officer Surendranath Yadav, the trailer truck was carrying about 50 migrant labourers from Rajasthan while the other truck was taking the workers to Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the deceased.
The chief minister, according to a statement released by the state government, directed the divisional commissioner and IG Kanpur to visit the site and give a report on the cause of the accident immediately.
Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi said the chief minister had also directed that SHOs of two police stations be suspended, and stern warning be issued to the concerned circle officers.
“The chief minister has reiterated that directions have been given to all the border areas to ensure that no person travels by unsafe means like trucks. Directions have already been issued to keep 200 buses under the disposal of district magistrates in every district of border areas. Funds have been approved to send the labourers by buses. Hence, the district magistrates must strictly comply with these orders,” a statement from the government said.
The state government has decided to give Rs 2 lakh to the kin of each deceased, and Rs 50,000 to the seriously injured, it said.