At least 16 labourers were killed and 17 injured when a truck in which they were travelling fell into a ditch at Gandepalli in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh on Monday.
According to reports, 35 daily-wage labourers had boarded the lorry loaded with fly ash near Eluru in the neighbouring West Godavari district to go home. The driver lost control of the vehicle at Gandepalli and the lorry fell into a ditch. All the 16 who died were buried alive under the fly ash.
Those who were injured in the accident are being treated at various hospitals in Rajahmundry.
Finance minister Yenamala Ramakrishnudu, who hails from the district, said, "It seems to be the case where the driver was sleepy and lost control of the vehicle. However, the police and other machinery acted fast in saving some lives."
The driver, who absconded from the scene, reportedly surrendered to the police later.
The dead are from the Kattipudi, Prattipadu and Tondangi regions of East Godavari who had gone to Chintalapudi in West Godavari few days ago to work in farms.
State chief minister Chandrababu Naidu expressed shock over the incident and ordered that the injured be provided better treatment after reviewing the situation with officials.
The government has also announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the families of the deceased.