| A smashed railing on the Howrah Bridge approach. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Howrah, Feb. 26: Five people, including a five-year-old and her father, were mowed down this morning on an approach road to Howrah bridge.
A Howrah-bound truck, loaded with LPG cylinders, spun out of control while travelling down GR Road ' the approach to the bridge from Howrah ' broke through a divider and hit eight people.
Four died on the spot while another succumbed to injuries at Apollo Hospital.
Ritujaa Ghosh, 5, Sheikh Sabrati, 19, Sandhya Chakraborty, 43, and a man of around 35 who could not be identified died almost immediately. Debasish Ghosh, 40, died later.
Debasish and his wife Madhuchanda were first rushed to Howrah Hospital and then to Apollo. The condition of his wife is said to be 'critical'.
The couple from Adisaptagram in Hooghly and their daughter Ritujaa were coming to Calcutta to visit Madhuchanda's sister.
Samar Patra, 32, Asit Sadhukhan, 40, and a woman who lives on the pavement of the channel were taken to Howrah Hospital. The woman was released later but the men had to be admitted.
Witnesses said two of the dead were trying to cross GR Road when they were hit. The rest were standing beyond the divider.
'The driver and the cleaner of the vehicle escaped. Golabari police station has launched a manhunt. The vehicle is in the police station,' said Mihir Bhattacharya, the Howrah superintendent of police.
Personnel from the GR Road traffic control centre, on the opposite side of the channel, and senior police officers rushed to the site.
The truck rammed into the divider and destroyed it totally. A concrete pavement was razed and a traffic signal post uprooted.
Metres from pools of dried blood, a witness said the driver and the cleaner jumped out of the vehicle and melted in the crowd. 'We heard a crash and rushed' None of us gave the driver a chase because our primary concern was to shift the injured to hospital,' said Swapan Jana, who runs a tea-stall nearby.