In one of the worst road accidents in recent times in Bhubaneswar, a sand-carrying dumper ploughed into the waiting traffic at the busy Khandagiri Square on Sunday evening, killing at least three persons and injuring 13 others.
The truck, which rammed into the commuters jumping the traffic signal, smashed at least four cars, two bikes, a bus and ended up crushing an autorickshaw. The autorickshaw was carrying at least four passengers. A 25-year old woman died on the spot while two men were received dead at Capital Hospital.
Director of Capital Hospital Dr Sudhir Mallick said at least three victims were brought dead while three others were shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital, Cuttack, in a critical condition. The total number of injured, who have been admitted to various private hospitals, could go beyond 10.
The incident, which occurred at about 5.30 pm, led to tension as locals blocked National Highway No.5 leaving vehicular traffic stranded on either side of Khandagiri Square. For the next two hours, life came to a standstill on the busy route as City police tried to bring the situation under control.
Eyewitnesses said the dumper was coming from Khandagiri Hills and the driver apparently jumped the signal and lost control while taking a right turn. Unable to rein in the vehicle, he jumped and fled, leaving the vehicle heading uncontrollably towards the traffic gathered at Jagamara side of the junction. Since the road is sloppy, the sand-carrying vehicle went straight into right side of the road where commuters were waiting for the traffic signal to change.
ACP (Traffic) Binod Dash said the driverless dumper ran over 25-year-old Monalisa Samal, who was on a Scooty, before ramming into a series of vehicles waiting at the signal and people standing on the pedestrian path. Police had to use cranes to extricate some people from the mangled autorickshaw.
Mayor Ananta Narayan Jena, who rushed to the spot, said it was difficult to identify the deceased and the injured. The woman was found completely covered in lubricant leaked from the damaged vehicle, he added.
The incident triggered anger among the locals who demanded to know how sand-laden lorries were allowed inside the City during the day-time despite a ban. “The transporters bribe the traffic police to enter the City limits and this is the result,” said an onlooker. It took police about two hours to clear the area and allow normal traffic to resume.