At least 14 persons were killed when a truck lost control, ploughed through a group of people in front of a police station, hit an electric pole uprooting it, and rammed a roadside shop at Yerpedu, 25 km from Tirupati on the Srikalahasti highway on Friday.
Fifteen persons, including two police officials and three journalists, were injured. The toll is expected to go up as many were injured seriously. Some were mowed down by the truck and some electrocuted after live cables fell on them.
Most of the victims had come to the mandal headquarters town to file a complaint in the police station against rampant sand mining in the Swarnamukhi riverbed.
As the pole came down, live wires snapped and fell on parked two-wheelers, which went up in flames leading to electrocution. Some bystanders who rushed to help the victims also suffered electrocution, while some were injured by the raging flames. The situation remained chaotic for over 10 minutes as nobody understood whether it was an accident, fire or electrocution.
The bodies of the deceased were shifted to the S.V. Medical College, and the injured were rushed to the S.V.R. Ruia Government General Hospital in Tirupati. The grievously injured were shifted to the Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences, Christain Medical College, Vellore, and a private hospital in Chennai.
All the victims hailed from Munagalapalem village in Yerpedu mandal. The farmers went to the Tehsildar's office for a demonstration, but returned on finding no one. On hearing that Superintendent of Police R. Jayalakshmi was at the Yerpedu police station on a surprise visit, they reached the venue to air their grievance.
Yerpedu is at the ‘T’ junction leading to Tirupati, Srikalahasti and Venkatagiri. The accident spot is close to this junction.