Nineteen persons, including 12 women and three children, were killed and six others were injured after a truck in which they were travelling overturned at Bavliyari village near Dholera on Bhavnagar-Ahmedabad state highway, in Dhandhuka taluka of Ahmedabad in the wee hours of Saturday. This is second major road accident in the area in less than three months.
Later in the evening, the truck driver, identified as Madha Ratika, was picked up by Rajula police from Chhotra village of Rajula taluka in Amreli. He was arrested by Dholera police later.
Police said that after loading around 20 metric tonnes of cement from a cement factory in Rajula taluka of Amreli district, the truck was on its way to Dahej in Bharuch district. En route, the truck driver picked up 25 labourers near Talaja in the neighbouring Bhavnagar district who wanted to go to Kheda in central Gujarat. However, the truck skidded off the highway just after entering Ahmedabad district and then overturned at Bavliyari village, around 40 km from Bhavnagar city around 3 am. Twenty-four people who were sitting on bags of cement loaded in the truck were trapped in the mound of the bags as the truck fell upside down, police said. As many as 18 persons were killed on the spot while one succumbed to injuries in hospital, police said.
“A police control room van, which was doing patrolling around five kilometres away from the site of the accident, rushed to the spot. Some other truck drivers, who had stopped after the accident, called the ambulance. They pulled out six persons from the heap of cement bags and rushed them to Sir Takhtasinhji General Hospital in Bhavnagar. However, 18 others could not be rescued as they were trapped under the heap of cement bags and the overturned truck. We immediately rushed a crane and removed the truck and cement bags. By that time, all the 18 had died,” Dholera police sub-inspector Sanjaysinh Jadeja said.
Jadeja said that one of the seven injured died while undergoing treatment at the state government-run hospital in Bhavnagar city, around 40 km away from the accident site. “Primary investigation has revealed that a truck coming from the opposite direction tried to overtake another truck. This partially blocked the path of the ill-fated truck. To give way to the truck coming from the opposite direction, the driver of the truck carrying cement tried to steer on the edge of the road. However, the driver lost control and the truck which was fully loaded skidded off the road and eventually overturned,” Jadeja said.
Police said the victims were residents of Sartanpar and Padari village of Talaja taluka of Bhavnagar district and Talaja town. “The victims belonged to two-three families. One of them who was sitting in the truck driver’s cabin has told us that they were going to Kheda to work as agricultural labourers and that they had boarded the truck near Talaja,” said the PSI.
Bavliyari village is located on the border of Bhavnagar and Ahmedabad districts. The accident took place around 22 km away from Dholera. “The labourer who was sitting in the driver’s cabin has escaped with minor injuries. The driver of the truck and the cleaner abandoned the vehicle and ran away after it overturned. We have booked the truck driver,” said Jadeja.
The Section 184 of Motor Vehicles Act deals with dangerous driving while 177 provides for punishment for violation of provisions of the act. “The injured are being treated at Bhavnagar hospital and doctors say that they are out of danger,” added the PSI.