Sixteen labourers were crushed to death under sacks of food grains, when the tempo they were transporting the grain in overturned at Akkalkot near Solapur, 450 km south of Mumbai, on Tuesday.
The victims, who were siting inside the tempo, were all from Gulbarga district in Karnataka, and were headed for Nagothane in Raigad district to get jobs.
The accident occurred when their speeding tempo rammed into a traffic island after the driver lost control. The impact was reportedly so violent that the tempo overturned, and left the 16 victims buried and suffocating to death under the sacks.
Unable to break through the tempo’s tin covered body frame, five men, three women and eight children died on the spot, and 27 were injured.
A total of 45 people were travelling by the tempo.
The Solapur police said the labourers were originally from Jewali, Hittalshirur and Bennshirur villages in the Aland taluka in Karnataka’s Gulbarga district. They reportedly had dinner at Akkalkot and were headed for Nagothane in Raigad, where they to work at a brick-kiln. All of them were travelling with their families and carrying household items and essential commodities.
The accident spot was littered with these utensils, provisions and grains. Relatives of the dead reached Akkalkot this morning. The tempo driver fled the scene after the accident and was untraceable till late in the evening. Police suspect he may have lost control because of the sheer weight in the vehicle.
A police team comprising Inspector Sanjay Dhumal, Assistant Police Inspector Sunil Aane and Assistant Police Inspector S.P. Shinde reached the spot, and first took the injured to the Akkalkot primary health centre. The seriously injured were then moved to the government hospital at Solapur.
Four of the injured are reportedly serious. Johny Naikwadi, a supervisor, who was also injured, has lodged a police complaint against the driver whose name is not known yet.