Patna, Jan. 10: At least 25 people, including nine children and an equal number of women, died early this morning after the paddy-laden truck they were travelling in overturned at Aurangabad, about 110km southwest from here.
Among the deceased, 10 belonged to a family of Palamu in Jharkhand. Its only member to survive the accident that occurred around 3.30am is 18-year-old Seema Kumari.
She is among the 10 critically injured persons undergoing treatment at Aurangabad sadar hospital. The girl is on emergency support.
Groaning in pain, one of the critically injured persons said the driver of the truck was in an inebriated state. The vehicle overturned in a roadside pit near Titaibigha village on Aurangabad-Daltonganj national highway (NH-139) under Muffasil police station after he lost control over the steering.
Police said the victims were farmers and their relatives, all from Lesliganj village in Palamu, Jharkhand. They were returning with paddy and cash after working on farmlands at Jagidishpur in Bhojpur district.
When the truck overturned, the farmers and their relatives got stuck under the paddy-laden truck.
The driver and the cleaner of the truck escaped leaving the helpless farmers and their kin. The vehicle has been seized, said Aurangabad sadar deputy superintendent of police Ajay Narayan Yadav, adding that all the deceased had been identified.
The bodies were sent to Lesliganj later today after post-mortem, said an official of the Aurangabad district administration.
Aurangabad district magistrate Abhay Kumar Singh said the kin of the deceased would be provided an ex gratia of Rs 50,000 each from the Bihar chief minister's relief fund.
The compensation would be sent to the deputy commissioner of Palamu.
Expressing grief over the death of the farm labourers, chief minister Nitish Kumar ordered an inquiry into the accident. He asked the Aurangabad district magistrate and the superintendent of police to submit a detailed report to the government at the earliest.