22 die as truck hits signpost, overturns

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Belgaum, November 17:   Twenty-two persons, among them ten children and eight women, died on the spot and 30 more were injured when a goods vehicle carrying construction workers from Yadgir district of Karnataka capsized in Saundatti taluk of Belgaum district on Saturday.

The accident occurred around 5.30 a.m. The driver is believed to have dozed off behind the wheel.

All the victims were construction workers engaged in stone chiselling and hailed from five thandas (hamlets) in Surpur taluk of Yadgir district. They had boarded the truck on Friday night and were on their way to Sawantawadi in Maharashtra. The truck hit a signpost and skidded over 20 feet to the left before overturning and into a roadside field.

The bodies of the victims were shifted to the Murgod primary health centre for post-mortem and later sent to Yadgir in special buses of the North West Road Transport Corporation.

Superintendent of Police Chandragupta said relief and rescue operations began within 20 minutes. The 108 ambulance service was pressed into service. A JCB was also rushed to the spot.

The driver Gopinarayan Rao Rathod, who is also the owner of the truck, survived the accident with minor injuries. A case has been registered him for negligent driving and illegally transporting people in a goods transport vehicle.

Minister for Sugar and Small Scale Industries Prakash B. Hukkeri, who hails from the district, rushed to the spot and, after consultations with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, announced a compensation of Rs. 1 lakh to the kin of the dead.

The government would also bear the cost of treating all the injured persons, he said.

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