AHMEDABAD, INDIA (BNO NEWS) — Twenty-four people were killed on early Thursday morning when a truck carrying sacks of salt overturned in western India, local authorities said on Friday. The driver of the vehicle fled the scene.
The accident occurred at around 5:30 a.m. local time at the Chharodi railway crossing near Sanand, a municipality in the district of Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat, when the truck overturned. It was carrying sacks of salt but was also carrying dozens of people who were sleeping on top of them.
Police said the driver of the truck apparently lost control just after passing the railway crossing, although the exact cause of the accident remains unknown. The sacks of processed salt, which weigh around 20 kilograms (44 pounds) each, fell on top of the sleeping passengers when the vehicle overturned.
The vehicle was carrying 45 passengers who were heading home after work and were offered a ride by the truck driver. Authorities said 24 of them were killed, including six men, six women, eight boys and four children. Seventeen others were injured and were rushed to the V S Hospital in Ahmedabad, where some remained in a critical condition on Friday.
Even though investigators are unsure what caused the accident and are treating the deaths as an accident, the truck driver fled the scene. Police are not excluding the possibility that the truck driver may have fallen asleep behind the wheel, causing the vehicle to leave the road and eventually overturn.
India, the world’s second most populous nation with more than 1.2 billion citizens, is often the scene of deadly road accidents, many of which are attributed to reckless driving, aging vehicles and overloading. In new figures released in 2010, India overtook China to top the world in road fatalities.
According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, approximately 120,000 people are killed in road accidents in India each year. Deaths as the result of road accidents account for up to 40 percent of the country’s deaths due to unnatural causes.