KURNOOL:The driver of an LPG cylinder-laden truck saved the lives of scores of residents of Enugumarri village in Peapully mandal on the National Highway 44 in Kurnool district by persuading them to flee the village even as the truck caught fire and cylinders on it began exploding one after another after around 7 am on Thursday.
According to the police, driver Kullayappa reportedly saw some sparks near the engine and stopped the truck, which was carrying the gas cylinders from Anantapur to Kurnool.
Even as they were alerting the villagers, the truck caught fire and the cylinders started exploding. Several of the exploding cylinders then fell in the fields near the village. This led the panic-stricken villagers to flee from there along with their elderly and children, The mishap occurred on the highway just 50 metres from the village.
Over 100 LPG cylinders exploded, sending huge balls of fire into the air. They flew in all directions in the air and fell some 100 to 300 feet away from the truck. A couple of huge trees and haystacks also caught fire when the badly-burnt cylinders fell on them.
The sound of blast could be heard as far as 2 km from the spot. The intensity of the heat caused by the fire was so severe that the fire tenders, which rushed to the spot, could not approach the burning truck for nearly 3 hours with the cylinders continuing to explode. The truck, bearing the registration No AP 28 X 4977, was charred beyond recognition.
Meanwhile, some villagers, overcoming their fear, rushed to either side of the road and managed to halt the oncoming vehicles half a km away from the accident spot.
Vehicular traffic came to a halt for 3 km on both sides and resumed only after the fire department personnel removed the wreckage and declared the road safe to traverse. “It was such a scary sight, the like of which I have never seen in my 40 years of life. I feared for my life and my family,” G Shankar, a farmer of Enugumarri village.
On being alerted, Dhone DSP PN Babu rushed to the spot along with his men. By that time, fire tenders too had arrived there. However, with the explosions still continuing then, none dared to venture near the truck. Only after a three-hour wait, they could do so when they were sure that there would be no more blasts.