At least 32 people were killed — 13 of them children and five women — when a speeding truck rammed head-on into two vans near Sarbhog in Assam's Barpeta district Thursday. The police fear a rise in the number of deaths. All the victims are said to be migrant labourers.
The accident occurred near Kismat-dorika village around 4.30 am Thursday on NH35 and the vans landed in the paddy fields on the roadside. The police suspect speeding as the cause of the mishap.
The two vans were transporting people from a village near Tamarhat in Dhubri district in western Assam to a brick kiln near Rangiya in Kamrup district. "The vans were fully packed with people. The families have been shifting to the brick kiln for several months," Barpeta SP Dr G V Shivaprasad said.
SP Shivaprasad said there were at least 46 people in the two vans, 32 of whom were killed. The driver of the truck, who suffered minor injuries, has been arrested. Whether the drivers of the vans were also killed is to be ascertained. The truck was carrying a consignment of sodium carbonate from Guwahati to West Bengal.
Four of the injured are being treated at the Barpeta Medical College Hospital while 10 have been shifted to Guwahati Medical College Hospital. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1 lakh to the next of kin of each of the deceased and free treatment to the injured. He has ordered a high-level inquiry into the accident.