| People gather around the truck after the accident, a motorcycle hit by the vehicle and an injured at Capital Hospital. Pictures by Ashwinee Pati |
Bhubaneswar, Dec. 1: Three people were killed and a dozen injured when a sand-laden tipper ploughed through a number of vehicles at Khandagiri Square here this evening.
The toll is likely to rise with at least ten of the injured battling for their lives at various hospitals in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. The driver of the tipper, who bore the brunt of mob fury following the accident, has also been hospitalised.
Sources said the tipper, which was coming down the Khandagiri Hill Road, lost balance and rammed into the jumble of vehicles at the square.
Around a dozen vehicles, including five cars and two autorickshaws, were damaged in the mishap with some climbing up the others in a row. The tipper that caused the pile-up came to a halt after running over around six motorcycles and finally hitting the footpath opposite the square.
“I was standing at Khandagiri Square when the vehicle hit a motorcycle and went out of control. Then it crossed the traffic square and started hitting the vehicles, including commuters on motorcycles waiting for the traffic signal. It was like moving death. People watching the scene in horror ran helter skelter,” said Manasi Satpathy, an eyewitness.
“While three people were killed in the accident, the injured were rushed to the hospital,” said assistant commissioner of police Pratap Kumar Swain.
While a woman was killed on spot, two others succumbed to their injuries in hospital. The deceased were identified as Nijamudin Khan, 20, an autorickshaw driver, and Biswanath Sasmal, 40, a resident of Jadupur on the city outskirts and Monalisa Samal, 20, a native of Jharsuguda. Eyewitnesses said that Monalisa, who was on her scooter, was the first one to be hit by the tipper. Her relatives said that she was to get married in the second week of December.
“There was chaos everywhere. Before the commuters could realise anything, the truck had already played havoc. The impact of the accident was so severe that an autorickshaw remained trapped under the truck for more than one hour,” said Rashmi Ranjan Sahu, another eyewitness.
Tension erupted after the incident as the mob blocked the National Highway-5 and disrupted traffic for more than 90 minutes.
The mob also attacked the driver of the truck, who was later hospitalised with critical injuries. A fire brigade vehicle was rushed to the spot for rescue operation.
Police officials later reached the spot and brought the situation under control. “Preliminary investigations suggest that break failure might have caused the incident. We are also investigating whether this was a case of drunk driving,” said a senior police official.
The incident has also raised questions with regard to the restriction imposed on the entry of heavy vehicles in the city from 8am to 9pm.
“Though the entry of heavy vehicles is restricted, one can see a number of heavy vehicles in the city during peak hours also. The police should strictly enforce the restrictions,” said Bibekananda Sahu, a resident of Nayapalli.
On July 29, two persons were killed and two others injured after a truck driver went berserk at Rasulgarh Square in a bid to escape following an accident. The truck had hit three motorcycles.