At least 14 migrant labourers hailing from Rajasthan were mowed down and six others injured by a speeding dumper truck in Gujarat's Surat in the wee hours of Tuesday, police said.
The victims, including a toddler, were sleeping by a roadside when the truck driver lost control and ran over 20-odd farm labourers near the Kosamba village, 60 km from Surat. Twelve of them were killed on the spot while two others succumbed later.
Six injured persons were admitted in a Surat hospital. The truck driver and cleaner were among the injured.
All the victims hailed from Kushalgarh in Rajasthan, police said. The truck driver claimed the accident happened as the steering wheel jammed and he lost control.
"A dumper truck ran over the migrants who worked in sugarcane fields on the Kim-Mandvi road shortly after midnight, after first hitting a tractor loaded with sugarcane. Twelve persons died on the spot, while two succumbed on way to the hospital. Seven men, six women and one child died in the accident," Surat Range Inspector General of Police Rajkumar Pandyan said.
Compensation for victims' kin
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rajasthan and Gujarat Chief Ministers condoled the deaths and announced compensation to the next of kin of the victims.
In Delhi, Modi announced Rs 2 lakh as ex gratia to the kin of each of the deceased from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund, which is primarily utilised to render immediate relief to those affected by natural calamities like floods, cyclones, earthquakes, major accidents and riots.
Those injured will be provided Rs 50,000 each from the fund.
In a tweet, the Prime Minister said: "The loss of lives in a truck accident in Surat is tragic. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. Praying that the injured recover at the earliest."
"Ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh each from PMNRF will be given to the next of kin of those who lost their lives and Rs 50,000 each to those injured."
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani also expressed grief over the tragedy and announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of the victims.
In Jaipur, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for the bereaved families and Rs 50,000 each for the injured.
Gehlot tweeted: "The tragedy in Surat, where labourers from Banswara have lost lives, is heart-wrenching. The Rajasthan government will provide Rs 2 lakh each to families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each to those injured from the CM Relief Fund."
"Deeply saddened to know many labourers from Banswara have lost lives after a truck ran over them as they were sleeping near the road in Surat. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and prayers for speedy recovery of those injured," he said in another tweet.
Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra also expressed deep condolences and wished speedy recovery to the injured. The Governor said that he was distressed by this heartbreaking incident and wished God to give peace to the departed souls and strength to their families to bear this grief.
(With inputs from IANS)