| The mangled wreck of the truck and the stall. Picture by Nityananda Sarkar
Raiganj, June 12: Three persons were killed when a truck rammed into a fruit stall located in a roadside market at Durgapur More, 13 km from here, early this morning.
The dead have been identified as Nirmal Das, the owner of the stall, Surjya Mohanta, a resident of Garia in Calcutta, and 17-year-old Soni Mollah.
Mohanta had recently opted for voluntary retirement from a financial institution and had come to visit his brother.
Both Soni and Mohanta, 47, died on the spot. Das, 58, died on way to hospital.
Traffic was stalled for more than four hours as residents protested against the accident that took place on NH 34 around 5.30 am.
The driver and helper of the truck have fled and police have seized the vehicle.
Eyewitnesses said the truck first rammed into Soni and Mohanta before mowing down the wall of the first shop of Durgapur Link Bazaar and hitting the fruit vendor. The truck was going to Asansol from Itahar.
Das was alive for more than two hours, trapped under the truck. The Telegraph was on the spot when hundreds of people tried to extricate him from the mangled wreck of the truck and the collapsed wall. Das was screaming with pain.
The officer-in-charge of the Itahar police station deployed a wrecker and it was more than two hours before the vehicle could be moved.
By then, Das had lost consciousness. An impatient crowd angered by the delay began throwing stones at the other vehicles, which had come to a halt at the spot. The police, however, chased the mob away.
Das was taken to the district hospital in Raiganj, where he was declared “brought dead” around 11 am.
The owner of a tea stall, Sudip Das, who witnessed the incident, said both Soni and Mohanta had tea from his shop, which he had opened at 5 am.
“Nirmal was stacking up fruits in his shop. A few people were waiting for buses. Suddenly I heard someone shout and saw a truck careening towards us. The helper was leaning out from the window of the vehicle and screaming that the brakes had failed and that we should get out of its way,” Sudip recalled.
But in the blink of an eye, the truck had ploughed through the three, he said.
Mohanta’s nephew Debabrata said: “My uncle was an employee of Peerless and had taken voluntary retirement. He had come to our house and was waiting for a bus to take him home. He is survived by a son who will sit for his Madhyamik examination next year, a daughter who is in Class VII, and his wife.”