Three bystanders were reportedly killed when a PDS rice-laden lorry toppled on Pollachi Road in front of the SIDCO industrial estate here on Saturday. The accident took place around 7.30 am when lorry driver Lakshmanan, heading towards Pollachi, swerved the vehicle to right to avoid hitting another vehicle coming from the opposite direction.
Eyewitnesses said around a dozen persons, mostly industrial workers, who were having tea in a shop, were caught under the rice bags. Locals immediately swung into action and managed to rescue many of them. Three persons suffocated to death and five others were injured. “The lorry driver, who tried to overtake a bus, spotted another vehicle approaching from the opposite direction at a high speed. To avoid colliding with that vehicle, he swerved the lorry to right assuming that he could halt in the roundabout at the entrance of the industrial estate. But the lorry toppled on its left owing to heavy load,” said assistant commissioner of police (south) R Mutharasu.
Soon after the vehicle toppled, ropes that were tied around the rice bags snapped and the bags fell on people standing nearby. Of the three victims two persons were identified as Narayanan Kutty (52), a resident of Kurichi and Gopalan (50), a resident of Othakalmandapam. The identity of the third victim could not established immediately. He is believed to be a migrant labour from a northern state.
Police said five others were injured and all of them were out of danger. Lorry driver Lakshmanan, who suffered fractures on his legs, blamed the bus, which he was trying to overtake, for the accident. “The bus suddenly started turning right. To avoid hitting the bus, I was forced to pull my vehicle to right. But unfortunately, the vehicle lost balance and toppled,” he explained. Police said the lorry was carrying around 28,000 kg of PDS rice from the warehouse at Peelamedu and was going to Pollachi to deliver the grain to different ration shops in the town.
The Traffic Investigation Wing has booked the lorry driver and are investigating.