At least 20 people were killed on the spot and equal number were injured on Friday when a truck driver lost control and hit an electric pole before ploughing the vehicle into pedestrians, cars and shops at Yerpedu, about 25 km away from Tirupati in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh.
The incident happened at around 1:45 pm, when a large number of people had gathered in front of the Yerpedu police station located on the Putalapattu-Nayudupeta state highway to stage a dharna to demand action against illegal sand mining in the area.
Police said the truck with heavy load which was travelling at a high speed, lost control and hit an electric pole before crushing several people under its wheels. The truck came to a halt after destroying several vehicles and road side shops, which were gutted in a fire that broke out in one of the shops due to impact of the accident.
The driver and the cleaner absconded after the accident.
Renigunta deputy superintendent of police K S Nanjndappa said six people were crushed under the wheels of the truck, while the remaining 14 died of electric shock with high tension wires falling on them and fire in the shops. Following the accident, traffic movement on the Yerpedu, Srikalahasti, Renigunta and Tirupati routes was affected.
Some of the injured were shifted to Ruia hospital in Tirupati, while few others were moved to hospitals in Chennai and Vellore. The condition of 10 of the injured is said to be critical.
The Andhra Pradesh government announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh to the families of the deceased.
Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu expressed shock and grief at the loss of lives in the accident in Yerpedu. He directed the district Collector to personally supervise the relief operations.
Meanwhile, tense situation is prevailing near Ruia hospital as relatives of the victims are thronging the hospital and demanding action against the driver.