Four persons were crushed to death when a stone chip-laden truck careened into a tea stall off a state highway near Murshidabad’s Bhalkundi village early on Friday.
Eyewitnesses said the truck, which was heading to Behrampore from Rampurhat in Birbhum along the Rampurhat-Sherpur state highway, driving recklessly at a high speed apparently lost control and ran over several persons and the tea stall, before being stopped by a large tree. The incident occurred around 6am.
“Four persons died on the spot, and the shop was completely destroyed. The gathering was much larger though, and it could have been far worse had it not been for a few people who spotted the errant vehicle and ran for their lives,” said Rakibul Sheikh, a witness.
The deceased have been identified as Hefjul Sheikh, 62, Al-Amin Sheikh, 65, Ujjal Sheikh, 18 and Prakash Marjit, 32 — all local farmers.
Sources said two injured were rushed to Khargram Block Hospital. Later, they were referred to the Murshidabad Medical College and Kandi Sub-divisional Hospital, respectively.
“Their condition is critical,” said a source.
Police said the truck had been seized, but the driver, whose identity was ascertained, was absconding.
“We have started a case against the driver. Prima facie, it seems that he had fallen asleep at the wheel,” said district police chief K. Sabari Raj Kumar.