In a gory road accident, four members of a pilgrim-family from Bangalore city were charred to death at Boothalabanda Cross, between Chittoor and Palamaner towns in the district, 40 km from here, in the early hours of Wednesday.

The four-member family, G.V. Satyanarayana, 56, his wife S. Mahalakshmi, 48, daughter G.S. Deepamala, and son G. Prashanth, 26, were on their return journey to Bangalore, after of Lord Venkateswara’s darshan at Tirumala. At 4.15 a.m., the SUV on high speed caught fire as its petrol tank burst. The blazing vehicle ran amuck on the National Highway for about 200 meters before coming to a grinding halt at the roadside.

The Palamaner police said that as the vehicle suddenly caught fire, doors were jammed and the inmates could not find an exit. In a few minutes, the couple and their daughter were charred to death, while the passersby managed to retrieve Prashanth, who received over 80 per cent burns. The three bodies were rendered burnt and the police were forced to bring the medical team to the spot to conduct a post-mortem. Prashanth was shifted to Christian Medical College Hospital at Vellore, where he succumbed to burns in the afternoon.

The Palamaner DSP, Harinath Reddy, said that the family belonged to the weavers’ community and hailed from Sampangi Ram Nagar in Bangalore city. “Short-circuit inside the vehicle coupled with petrol tank blast seems to have led to the mishap. The head of the family was driving the vehicle,” he said. Their relatives were informed about the tragedy and some of them rushed to CMC Vellore.