Hyderabad: A speeding lorry rammed into a crowd of protesting farmers in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, leaving at least 20 dead and scores of others seriously injured on Friday. The vehicle ran into a shop before coming to a halt.
The lorry, going from Srikalahasti to Tirupati, caused the bloodbath after first hitting a car and then an electric pole. The accident occurred outside the Yerpedu police station, 20km from Tirupati, when a group of farmers from Mangalapalem village was staging a sit-in, demanding an end to sand smuggling from their area.
Most of the people who died on the spot were farmers. There were heart wrenching scenes as the area in a market place echoed with the shrieks and cries of the wounded, many of whom suffered fractures. Eyewitnesses said there was a pool of blood and many dead bodies were reduced to mangled flesh and bone.
The injured were taken to a government hospital in the area and other private hospitals in Srikalahasti and other nearby places.
While police said the accident occurred as the driver of the truck lost control over the vehicle, the local people alleged that the lorry ran into the crowd deliberately. The lorry was going from Kalahasti to Tirupati.
“A probe has been ordered into the accident”, said Chittoor district superintendent G Srinivas.
Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu expressed his shock over the accident and announced an ex gratia of Rs500,000 to the kin of every deceased person. He directed the ministers and top officials to rush to the scene of the accident and provide succour to the victims.
On the suspicion of foul play expressed by the local people the state transport minister Achchan Naidu said that an inquiry has been ordered into the cause of accident.