AT LEAST 14 people were killed when a truck ploughed into some roadside shops and a group of people standing outside a police station on the Putalpatu-Naidupet state highway, in Chittoor district on Friday afternoon. Seven of the 20 who were injured are reported to be critical. Police said the driver and his helper were drunk. Both of them have been arrested.
“The driver lost control near the Yerpedu police station and hit an SUV first, before crashing into a high-voltage electric pole. The falling electric cables electrocuted four persons. Ten others were run over by the truck as it crashed into roadside shops and people standing outside the police station,’’ said Tirupati (Urban) SP R Jaya Lakshmi.
“The driver was so drunk that he could not even stand straight at the police station. The truck, which was carrying stone powder, was on its way from Hyderabad to Chennai,” said the SP. Two of the victims who were electrocuted were farmers from Mungayapalem village.
They were part of a group of 60-70 farmers from Yerpedu Mandal who had gathered at the police station to submit a petition against sand mining. The SP had directed them to meet the Collector. The accident occurred just minutes after the SP left the police station. Police said most of the other victims were vegetable and fruit vendors.
“We were standing near the entrance of the police station when we heard a loud crash… An electric wire fell, and the two persons behind me were electrocuted… I received burn injuries on my hand,’’ said Sub-Inspector Rama Krishna. The injured have been admitted to the Ruia Hospital in Tirupati. Meanwhile, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu announced ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh to the families of the victims.