ANANTAPUR: Five women of a family were charred to death when a high tension cable snapped and fell on the auto-rickshaw they were travelling in at Chillakondaiahpalli village under Tadimarri mandal, Sri Sathya Sai district on Wednesday morning.Police said as many as 13 people, including the auto driver, were heading to Pedakota village for agriculture work when the incident happened.
Three of them sustained severe burns, while five others, including the driver, escaped unhurt. The deceased were identified as Konka Lakshmi Devi (45), Konka Pedda Kanthamma (49), Konka Rama Lakshmi (30), Konka Rathamma (42) and Kumari (35). The injured, Konka Gayathri, Konka Aruna and Sivarathna, were shifted to a government hospital for treatment.Fortunately, Konka Nageswaramma (38), A Eswaramma (36), K Rathnamma (34), Konka Ramadevi (35) and C Pothulaiah (driver) had a narrow escape.
“The incident took place between 7 am and 7.30 am. On noticing the flames, we rushed to the spot and saw the bodies of the victims lying on the ground. We could not do anything. Even though police and revenue officials immediately reached the scene, they, too, were helpless,” an eyewitness recalled. “A live 11 KV electric wire snapped and fell on the vehicle. The cable came in contact with the iron cage-like structure on the cargo hold of the auto, resulting in a sudden blaze,” another eye-witness said.
After preliminary investigation, Andhra Pradesh Southern Power Distribution Company Limited (APSPDCL) CMD H Haranatha Rao said a squirrel jumped on the iron clamps on the electric poles, resulting in the wire snapping and falling on the auto that had an iron cage-like structure on the cargo hold, which sparked the sudden blaze.Terming it a rarest of the rare mishap, he said a detailed inquiry was ordered and Anantapur circle superintendent engineer was asked to submit a report on the incident.
Meanwhile, TDP General Secretary and MLC Nara Lokesh did not buy the power distribution company’s argument and questioned how the officials could come to such a conclusion without even a proper enquiry. He took to Twitter and said, “Incidents like honeybees setting temple chariots on fire, rodents consuming liquor and squirrels causing the snapping of high tension wires only happen under the regime of Jagan ‘Nataka’ (Drama) Reddy.”
Dharmavaram Deputy Superintendent of Police Ramakanth said, “Agriculture labourers from Gundampalli were on their way to Pedakota for work when the mishap took place. A local sub-inspector rushed to the spot and shifted the injured persons to a hospital. A case has been registered under CrPC Section 174 (accidental death) and investigation is on,”
Hindupur MP Gorantla Madhav and Dharmavaram MLA Kethireddy Venkatramana Reddy visited the spot and inquired about the incident and directed the officials to provide proper treatment to the injured persons.
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan condoled the bereaved families. Jagan also announced financial assistance of Rs 10 lakh each to the families.APSPDCL CMD H Haranatha Rao announced an ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh each for the bereaved families and Rs 2 lakh for those injured.Meanwhile, TDP leader Paritala Sriram and others staged a protest at the local sub-station alleging negligence by the department and demanded a compensation of Rs 50 lakh to the families of the victims.