25 migrant workers killed in road accident on way home amid lockdown

New Delhi, May 16 (efe-epa).- At least 25 migrant workers were killed and 36 injured when two trucks, in which they were traveling to their native villages amid a nationwide lockdown, collided in northern India on Saturday, officials said.

The crash occurred before dawn along a national highway as a truck rammed into a stationary lorry near a roadside eatery in Auraiya district, in Uttar Pradesh state, Deputy Superintendent of Police Surendranath Yadav told EFE.

“There are 25 dead as of now. There are also 15 injured in a local hospital and 21 others in a district hospital,” Yadav said.

He said one of the trucks was coming from neighboring Rajasthan state carrying sacks of construction material, as well as migrant laborers going to the eastern states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Bihar.

Its driver had stopped outside the eatery when another truck transporting migrant workers from Delhi hit it from behind.

“Both vehicles went off the road because of the impact of the collision. All the sacks fell on the passengers and that is what caused the maximum damage,” the police officer said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the “very tragic” road accident in Uttar Pradesh.

“I express my condolences to the families of those killed in this accident, as well as wish speedy recovery for the injured.”

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said his government has ordered a probe into the “unfortunate and sad” accident.

“My condolences to the bereaved families. Instructions have been given to ensure relief and medical treatment for those injured. A probe has also been ordered,” Adityanath tweeted.

The accident occurred amid a nationwide lockdown imposed by the government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus virus that has infected nearly 86,000 people and claimed some 2,800 lives.

The weeks-long lockdown has triggered a crisis for the millions of migrant laborers who rely on daily wages to feed and take care of their families.

The workers lost their jobs since the lockdown meant a complete halt of construction projects and closure of factories.

Moreover, with public transport also banned, these workers sought alternative means to return to their homes in villages, some even thousands of miles away from their urban places of work.

Hundreds of thousands of them even walked with their families on a grueling journey amid scorching heat, often without food and water. Some even bicycled to their homes.

This is the fourth in a series of deadly accidents that have claimed the lives of several poor migrants since the lockdown.

A public bus ran over six workers Thursday on a highway in the Muzaffarnagar district, also in Uttar Pradesh. They were walking to their hometowns in Bihar from Punjab state.

Adityanath on Friday ordered the state to arrange buses to transport migrants to their hometowns.

Last week, 16 migrant workers died when a cargo train ran over them while they were sleeping on the railway tracks in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad.

The central government has organized special trains to ferry home millions of people, mostly migrant laborers, stranded by the shutdown.

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