The truck had started picking up workers from Irkyal tanda at about 10.15 p.m. on Friday
In the accident on National Highway 4 near the Karnataka-Maharashtra border early on Saturday, many of the 22 persons died due to suffocation and not from the impact of the collision. The rice and ragi bags, personal baggage and cooking utensils that the truck was loaded with, fell over them. Since the labourers were required to be at a construction site till June next year, they were carrying nearly 35 quintals of rice, ragi and bajara and other grocery items. In fact, the truck was jam-packed, with men, women, children and luggage.
Govind Somalingappa Jadhava, one of the survivors of the accident, was all praise for the quick assistance rendered by the authorities in removing them from under the overturned truck. He was one of those who helped in rescuing 15 persons from certain death by clearing the bags that had fallen on top of them. “We don’t know how the accident happened as we were asleep. Even before we could realise what had happened, we heard screams and cries. It was a ghastly scene,” he said.
He and Thakur Hanmant Rathod, both residents of Surpur taluk of Yadgir district, and a few others, were among those sitting at the back of the truck. He said all of them were going to Sawanthwadi in Maharashtra, about 100 km from Belgaum city. The truck had started picking up workers from Irkyal tanda at about 10.15 p.m. on Friday. Mr. Govind was among those who fell out of the truck and survived with minor injuries. The 108 Ambulance rushed to the spot even as he was helping the injured. An earthmover pulled the truck to one side and that was when they found bodies under the rice and bajra bags.