Seventeeen persons, all related farm labourers, died on the spot when a lorry laden with cement bages overturned at Uppalapadu near Veldurthi in Guntur district in the wee hours of Thursday.

Thirty-five farm labourers hailing from Chinna Dornala in Prakasam district were on their way back from Ambapuram in Gurazala mandal after working in chilly farms in picking activity and boarded the lorry at about 12.30 a.m. An hour later, the lorry driver lost control over the vehicle at a sharp curve (Uppalapadu) 4 k.m. from Veldurthy leading to the vehicle overturning.

While 12 women and five men died on the spot under the weight of the cement bags, 13 others were injured, but all of them are out of danger. Five of them suffered fractures of limbs and spinal injuries and were shifted to Guntur General Hospital. While the accident took place at 1.30 a.m., the driver and cleaner of the vehicle surrendered before the Veldurthy police and informed about the accident.

Meanwhile, passengers of an RTC bus going from Macherla towards Srisailam came to the rescue of the victims and immediately called the 108 Ambulance Service and removed seven persons from underneath cement bags. Police arrived at the scene later and deployed two cranes to remove the mangled remains of the lorry and cement bags to remove bodies.

The Superintendent of Police Sankha Brata Bagchi, District Collector B. Ramanjaneyulu visited the accident site and coordinated the rescue work. The driver and cleaner of the lorry have been detained and case filed against them. The Heavy Industries Minister Kanna Lakshmi Narayana, Macherla MLA Pinelli Ramakrishna Rao, Markapuram MLA Narayana Reddy visited the hospital and announced Rs.50,000 for kin of each victim. Eight of them were eligible for Rs.75,000 under Indira Kranti Beema Scheme.

The dead were identified as Gampala Rani, 5, Yelagapati Bujji, 12, Yelagapati Mathaniel, 40, Tangirala Yohan, 22, Yelagapati Venkataiah, 38, (Group leader), Yelagapati Jayamma, 38, Yelagapati Lakshmamma, 24, Tangirala Adamma, 20, Yelagapati Navaneeta, 10, Devarakonda Kantamma, 15, Gampala Lakshmamma, 25, Yelagapati Nagamma, 25, Yelagapati Mercy, 13, Gampala Mahesh, 30, Yelagapati Saramma, 25, and Yelagapati Chinnari, 15.