The red Tata Magic that was damaged in the accident near Alipurduar on Tuesday afternoon. Picture by Anirban Choudhury
Alipurduar Aug. 20: A truck loaded with potatoes fell on two vans while trying to negotiate metal barricades put up by police on NH31C, the pile-up causing the death of eight persons.
When fire fighters came to the rescue, local people blocked them for half an hour, causing the loss of crucial minutes when the victims could have been taken to hospital and may have been saved.
Among the dead was a one-and-a-half-year-old boy and a woman and her mother-in-law.
The accident happened around afternoon at Rangalibazna Chowpathi, about 60km from Alipurduar, on NH31C.
The injured were rushed to the nearby Birpara State General Hospital and later, three were taken to Jalpaiguri Sadar Hospital.
The driver and cleaner of the truck that was travelling towards Birpara from Alipurduar, both in Jalpaiguri district, fled the spot.
Sailen Roy, a resident who was waiting for a bus at the Rangalibazna Chowpathi, said the truck was loaded with potatoes and the driver lost control while negotiating the two traffic barriers on the highway.
“Around 12.30pm, two Tata Magic cars that were speeding towards Alipurduar stopped at Rangalibazna Chowpathi in front of the police barricades. From the opposite direction, a truck loaded with potatoes was negotiating the barricades. Just when the truck was crossing the two cars, it lost balance and hit one of the cars. The truck fell on the car and the vehicle behind it,” he said.
The impact of the truck crushed the right side of a red Tata Magic. The other vehicle was flattened. The cars are used as share vehicles on the Madarihat-Birpara route.
A team that came from the nearest fire station, about 30km away, was stopped by some agitated residents.
Around 2pm, a fire service team brought a crane from nearby Birpara and lifted the truck so that the victims could be pulled out.
Seven people had died and one succumbed on the way to the hospital. Eleven people were injured.
The deceased have been identified at Mala Sarkar, 30, her mother-in-law Mukta Sarkar, 77, Gobind Devi Agarwala, 63, Akadashi Mandal, 45, Ashit Roy, 27, Kanak Roy, 29, one-and-a-half-year-old Indrajit Nayek and the driver of one of the cars Samsul Haque, 22.
“Eight persons, including a baby, were killed in the accident and 11 others were injured. Three of them are critical and have been taken to Jalpaiguri Sadar Hospital,” said Chinmoy Barman, the superintendent of Birpara State General Hospital.”
Traffic on NH31C was disrupted for around two hours because of the accident and the road was cleared around 3pm.
“We have seized all three vehicles. The driver and cleaner of the truck are absconding. We have started an investigation,” said Akash Magharia, the additional superintendent of police, Alipurduar.