The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Wrong-lane truck crushes 10 in Omni

Bolpur, Oct. 15: An overtaking truck crashed into a Maruti Omni coming from the opposite direction on a highway in Birbhum this morning, killing 10 young Id revellers going to see a Mithun Chakraborty film.

Two persons were pulled out alive from the heap of steel that the olive green van had been reduced to. One of them died in hospital. The other, Sheikh Heera, is fighting for life.

The men, aged between 17 and 30, were on their way to Bolpur town to catch the matinee show of the just-released Tiger.

The crash took place on the Panagarh-Moregram highway in Ilambazar, about 230km from Calcutta.

Police said the truck veered into the wrong lane while overtaking another and rammed into the van. A deafening bang alerted villagers, who saw the van stuck to the truck’s front and almost being flailed around. Both vehicles then hurtled into a paddy field.

The villagers rushed in but found it difficult to extricate the passengers through the steel mesh.

“We could not open the doors. Then four of us ran home for hammers and crowbars. We prised the doors loose from the hinges,” said Rezaul Haque of Ghurisha village.

“We also smashed the rear window to create an opening,” said Samsul Islam. “Four were already dead. Two others were gasping. One of them died soon after,” he added.

The blood-soaked bodies were first laid on the field and then piled on a police van.

Two cranes came from Ilambazar to haul the truck onto the road and free the Omni, still stuck to the truck.

Sheikh Amin and brother-in-law Sheikh Rejaul, Sheikh Nijamul and his brother Sheikh Swapan, driver Arjun Hajra, Sheikh Raja, Sheikh Lalon, Sheikh Baktiaruddin and Ro-shan Ali were killed on the spot.

Roshan’s cousin Sheikh Safar Ali died at the Bolpur Subdivisional Hospital.

Heera has been referred to Burdwan Medical College and Hospital. “His condition is critical,” said Shubhabrata Ghosh, the superintendent of the Bolpur hospital.

Subdivisional police officer Debashis Dhar said the driver and the cleaner of the truck have fled.

Heera mumbled to the rescuers that they were from Jalalpur. As the news of the mishap spread, relatives rushed to the Bolpur hospital and police station, 25km away.

Rabiul Islam, the elder brother of Nijamul, went to the accident site first and then to the hospital, from where the bodies were being sent for post-mortem.

“They were going to a cinema called Gitanjali. They were supposed to go last evening, but called the trip off at the last moment.”

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