In a tragic incident, 25 Jharkhand labourers, including 10 children, were killed when a truck ferrying them back home overturned on Natinal Highway 139 in Bihar’s Aurangabad district on Thursday.
Ten other labourers aboard the truck were injured, of whom is still under treatment in the district hospital while the others were discharged, District Magistrate Abhay Kumar Singh told The Hindu.
The police are looking for the driver, whom they blamed for “negligence.” A magisterial inquiry by the Deputy Development Commissioner has been ordered.
“The driver tried to overtake a vehicle and at the same time another vehicle was coming from the opposite direction. To avoid a probable collision, the driver swerved towards the left and possibly lost control of the truck. Skid marks on the road also indicate that the truck went out of control. Lack of light or fog could also have played a role,” Aurangabad superintendent of police (SP) Daljeet Singh told The Hindu.
At the accident site, the road was at an inclination of about eight to nine feet from ground level. “The truck turned turtle. Its wheels were up. Had it just tilted, the loss of live would have been less,” Mr. Singh said.
Post-mortems were conducted on the deceased victims. “As per preliminary examination, there are less external injuries on the bodies. Most of the people seem to have died of asphyxia. There were a lot of foodgrain sacks stocked up in the truck, which the labourers had earned for their work and were taking back home. They were sitting in the middle of the stacks. Perhaps that’s why they suffocated,” the SP said.
The labourers had come to work in paddy fields and hailed from Palamu and Latehar districts of Jharkhand. Two of them are from Bihar.
A magisterial inquiry by the Deputy Development Commissioner has been ordered.
Expressing sorrow over the tragedy, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced a compensation of Rs. 50,000 each, from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, for the families of the deceased.
Mr. Kumar directed the State Director General of Police Abhayanand to crackdown on freight vehicles carrying passengers. “Freight vehicles will not be used to transport people. In case of violation of this rule, strict action will be taken against the vehicle owner or driver,” an official press release said.