At least 24 migrant workers were killed and 36 injured after a moving trailer collided with a stationary truck in Auraiya, Uttar Pradesh, in the early hours of Saturday. Both the vehicles were ferrying migrant workers, according to news agency PTI.
The police reportedly said that the migrant workers, who were making their way eastward from Delhi, had stopped for tea when the accident happened between 3 a.m. and 3.30 am on the Auraiya-Kanpur Dehat stretch of National Highway 19.
The accident is the latest in a string of unfortunate incidents that have resulted in the deaths of migrant workers. The workers have been on the move after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a lockdown at 8 p.m. on March 24 which came into force four hours later.
The impact of the accident that occurred this morning at Auraiya was is to have resulted in both heavy vehicles overturning into a ditch. According to PTI, most of those that have lost their lives are from Jharkhand and West Bengal, while some were from Kushinagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh, officials told the news agency.
The stationary vehicle was reportedly on its way to Madhya Pradesh from Delhi. The one that rammed into it had begun its journey in Rajasthan. Both vehicles were ferrying workers who had found themselves without jobs, money or food as a result of the lockdown which began on March 25.
"The accident took place when some labourers travelling on the truck (coming from Delhi) halted on the Auraiya-Kanpur Dehat Road to have tea at a local shop. At this point of time, a truck coming from Rajasthan hit the stationary vehicle,” Inspector General, Kanpur, Mohit Agarwal told PTI over the phone.
Fourteen workers out of the 36 that have been injured have been admitted to a hospital in Saifai in Etawah district. The remaining 22 have been hospitalised in Auraiya, about 400 kms from New Delhi and 200 kms from the state capital Lucknow, Agarwal reportedly said.
PM Modi took to Twitter, calling the accident “very tragic”. “The government is carrying out relief work in full swing," the PM’s tweet added.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also expressed his condolences to the families of those that have deceased. According to a state government statement, he has directed the divisional commissioner and IG Kanpur to visit the site and submit a report on the cause of the accident.
Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi told PTI that CM Adityanath had also called for the suspension of the SHOs of the two police stations, and issued a stern warning to the concerned circle officers.
"The chief minister has reiterated that directions have been given to all the border areas to ensure that no person travels by unsafe means like trucks. Directions have already been issued to keep 200 buses under the disposal of district magistrates in every district of border areas. Funds have been approved to send the labourers by buses. Hence, the district magistrates must strictly comply with these orders," a statement issued by the Uttar Pradesh government said.
The state government has decided to give Rs 2 lakh to the kin of each deceased worker, and Rs 50,000 to the seriously injured, the statement added.