The death toll in the Auraiya road accident in Uttar Pradesh involving migrant workers returning home rose to 26 with another man succumbing to his injuries on Sunday, police said.
Twenty-four migrant workers were declared dead on Saturday early morning when a trailer truck carrying sacks of lime along with people rammed into the back of a stationary truck with many migrant workers sitting in it near a roadside eatery on the national highway in Auraiya. Later in the day, another man succumbed to his injuries.
In a statement issued here, the Auraiya police said the accident took place near Shivji Dhaba in Tikauli village involving a trailer truck and a mini-truck with both the vehicles falling into a ditch by the roadside.
"In the accident, 26 migrant labourers died, while 34 others sustained injuries," the statement said while updating the casualty figures.
A case has been registered against the drivers, owners and transporters of both the vehicles under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Epidemic Diseases Act and the Motor Vehicles Act at Kotwali police station in Auraiya.
Investigations are going on in this regard, police said, adding that efforts are being made to arrest the drivers, owners and transporters of both the vehicles.
Meanwhile, as many as 32 injured migrant labourers were admitted to the Uttar Pradesh University of Medical Sciences at Saifai in Etawah district.
The varsity's Vice-Chancellor, Dr Raj Kumar said, "The condition of four migrant labourers is extremely serious, while seven others are in serious condition. Apart from this, 20 other injured labourers are also undergoing treatment. Some of these labourers could be discharged in the next couple of days."
Shiv Kumar, an injured labourer who was going from Rajasthan to West Bengal, while recalling the accident said, "There were around 40-50 persons travelling in the trailer truck. As the trailer hit the stationary mini-truck near a 'dhaba' (roadside eatery), both the vehicles overturned and people fell down. Some came under the truck."
The accident in Auraiya is the latest one in a string of mishaps involving migrant workers returning to their native states amid the coronavirus lockdown.
Most of the victims were sitting on sacks of lime powder loaded on the trailer and were crushed when the vehicles overturned and fell into a ditch following the crash near an eatery between 3 am and 3.30 am on the Auraiya-Kanpur Dehat stretch of the national highway, police said.
While many of the workers were from Jharkhand and West Bengal, some were from Kushinagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh, they pointed out.
"In the accident, most of the labourers were crushed under these bags, which were on the trailer truck, and died. Some of them succumbed to injuries on the way to hospital," District Magistrate Abhishek Singh said, adding that all the deceased were men.
The mini-truck, which was going from Delhi to Madhya Pradesh, had stopped at the eatery as some workers wanted to have tea. It was carrying around 22 people, including five women and seven children, officials said.
The trailer truck with 43 migrants was coming from Rajasthan, they said.
Both the vehicles were ferrying people who found themselves without jobs, money or food during the lockdown and were desperate to get back home.
Local villagers assisted the police and the administration in the rescue operation as earthmovers were used to pull out the people from under the lime sacks. The badly mangled vehicles showed the intensity of the crash.