In a major road accident 16 persons died on the spot and 10 others injured on National Highway-16 near Gandepalli, about 33 km from Rajahmundry when a lorry carrying ash went out of control and overturned.
Four others travelling in the same lorry were reportedly missing. All the injured were shifted to Rajahmundry Government Hospital and their condition is stated to be out of danger.
All the workers in the lorry were daily labourers, who went to Chintalapudi mandal in neighboring West Godavari District about 20 days ago from five to six villages of Thondangi, Prattipadu and Sankhavaram mandals, which are upland areas of East Godavari District.
According to East Godavari Superintendent of Police S. Ravi Prakash the lorry was coming from Dachepalli in Guntur District and proceeding to Visakhapatnam. The labourers stopped the lorry near Eluru by-pass road on the Highway and perched themselves on the top of ash filled body of the vehicle. At around 2.30 a.m. when the truck reached the outskirts of Gandepalli, it was drizzling and the vehicle was going at high speed.
The driver applied sudden break but the vehicle went out of control due to slippery road consitions and it fell on the left margin of the road. All the labourers who, were in deep sleep, fell under the lorry along with ash and some of them managed to come out of the dust.
However, the driver and cleaner of the lorry could manage to escape unhurt.
On the information from locals, the Gandepalli police and Jaggampeta Inspector G.V.V. Satyanarayana rushed to the spot and started rescue operations.
The State Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu reached the spot at around 6 a.m. and announced Rs.2 lakh exgratia to the bereaved families.
Deputy Chief Minister N. Chinna Rajappa, Information and Public Relations Minister Palle Raghunatha Reddy rushed to Rajahmundry Government Hospital.