The government is involved in the relief work in Uttar Pradesh's Auraiya district, about 200 km from the state's capital Lucknow, where 24 migrants were killed and several were injured when two trucks collided earlier this morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tweeted amid outpouring of condolences over the incident.
"The road accident in Uttar Pradesh's Auraiya is extremely tragic. The government is involved in the relief work. I express my condolences to the families of those killed in this accident, as well as wish the injured a speedy recovery," PM Modi tweeted in Hindi.
Two trucks collided in Auraiya district at around 3 am, killing 24 migrant workers and injuring at least 38. Among those injured, 15 are critical. Separate groups of labourers - stranded due to the coronavirus lockdown - had hitched rides on these trucks coming from Rajasthan and Delhi to return to their homes.
Many of them were sitting on sacks of goods that one of the vehicles was transporting. Some of the them were thrown off the vehicle, others were crushed under the weight of these sacks due to the impact of the collision. The migrants were headed to their homes in Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and UP.
Reacting to the incident, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tweeted in Hindi: "The death of migrant workers in a road accident in Auraiya district is unfortunate and sad. My condolences to the bereaved families. Instructions have been given to ensure relief and medical treatment for those injured. A probe has also been ordered." He had appealed to the migrants yesterday to avoid travelling on their own.
Two police officers have been suspended over the incident and both the trucks have been seized. The UP Police has also filed cases against the truck drivers. A compensation of Rs 2 lakh has been announced by the state for the families of those who died and Rs 50,000 for those injured.
Two hundred buses will be deployed by the state in each of the border districts to help migrants return to their homes.
Among others who expressed grief and shock over the incident were Union Minister Rajnath Singh. "It is very sad to know about the death of several workers in the road accident in Auraiya of Uttar Pradesh. I express my condolences to the families of those who died in this accident. Also, I wish speedy recovery to those who were injured in the accident," he wrote.
Of those killed, 12 are from Jharkhand. "The news from Auraiya is extremely tragic. All the states will have to collaborate for the migrants who are are walking to their homes. They are the pillars of strenght for our nation and serving them is the most important duty for us," Jharkhand Chief Minster Hemant Soren tweeted in Hindi.
Lakhs of migrants were stranded in March when the government announced a nationwide shutdown to control the coronavirus pandemic. Special trains and buses are being organised yet many continue to take arduous journeys of hundreds of kilometres on foot.