Bhubaneswar/Puri: Five members of a family were killed and six others critically injured when a Tata Magic van carrying them plunged into a pit filled with rainwater alongside Jagannath Sadak here in the wee hours of Tuesday, police said.
The victims were proceeding to Puri from Patrapur area in Ganjam district for immersing the ashes of a family member when the vehicle skidded off the road between Bhailipur and Rua Square and plunged into the pit, police said.
The deceased were identified as K Jagadish, K Krishna, K Yamabati, K Abhimanyu and K Lata, they added. Chandanpur police seized the bodies and sent them for postmortem after registering five cases of unnatural deaths.
As many as 23 people from Samantiapalli Lalkamgaon village of Patrapur were travelling in two Tata Magic vans to Puri to immerse the ashes of K Murali. The van carrying K Jagadish and 10 others plunged into the pit around 4 am when the driver lost control over the vehicle due to drowsiness. Most of the travelers were pressed under the vehicle and suffocated to death. People travelling in the second Tata Magic reached the spot 45 minutes after the mishap and rescued those trapped under waist-deep water.
The injured were rushed to Chandanpur hospital in critical conditions. However, doctors declared five of them dead on arrival.
Sources claimed that some commuters including four bikers did not extend any help to the rescue operation even though some travelers of the second Tata Magic urged them with folded hands.
The bodies were taken to Puri district headquarters hospital in an open auto-rickshaw as there was no ambulance at Chandanpur hospital. “We had only one ambulance to meet emergency situation. Police took the bodies in an auto without arranging any other vehicle,” said hospital in-charge Punyashloka Das.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed grief and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased.