Eight people were killed when the SUV they were travelling in was hit head-on by a sand-laden truck in Tseminyu district of Nagaland on Wednesday morning.
All the deceased were in their early and mid-twenties except one who was in his thirties.
Four of them were recently-recruited government employees and were on their way to Mokokchung to join their first posting, a police official said.
The district police said the truck was coming from Merapani (Assam) and heading towards Kohima, while the SUV was travelling from Kohima to Mokokchung in the K. Station area of Tseminyu district around 7.55am.
The mishap site on the hilly two-lane NH-2 (erstwhile NH-61) is about 50km from Nagaland's capital Kohima, which is about 148km from Mokokchung.
“The truck hit the SUV head-on. Both vehicles fell some 15 feet below the highway. The SUV was completely crushed by the weight of the truck,” a police official said.
The police have registered a suo-motu case and have arrested the driver and two other occupants of the truck, all of whom hail from Golaghat district of neighbouring Assam.
The rescue operation involving the police and local residents led to the extraction of one of the passengers from the SUV. She was rushed to Kohima in an ambulance but she succumbed to her injuries while on the way. All the bodies were recovered by 11am, taking the number of fatalities to eight, the police said.
Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio posted on X (formerly Twitter): “I am deeply saddened by the tragic road accident in Tseminyu district where eight precious lives have been lost. The State Govt. is providing all necessary assistance, and ex-gratia of Rs 2.00 lakh each for the deceased. I extend my depeest condolences to the bereaved families.”