Seventeen women and a man were killed and four others injured when a mini goods vehicle they were travelling in plunged into a valley in Chhattisgarh's Kabirdham district on Monday, police said.

The accident occurred around 1.45 pm on Banjari Ghat near Bahpani village under Kukdur police station limits, an official said.

The victims were returning after plucking tendu leaves from a forest in the vehicle meant for transporting goods, he said.

The vehicle skidded off the road, tumbled down considerably and crashed onto the road below the valley, the official said.

After being alerted, a police team rushed to the spot and launched the rescue exercise, the official said.

"Twelve women and a man were killed on the spot, while nine others sustained injuries and were shifted to a hospital, where five women died," Kabirdham Superintendent of Police Abhishek Pallava said.

The remaining four injured persons, including three women, were referred for further treatment, he said.

Taking to X, Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the deaths, "The road accident in Kawardha, Chhattisgarh is deeply tragic. My heartfelt condolences go out to those who have lost loved ones. I also wish a swift recovery for all the injured. The local administration, under the state government's guidance, is actively providing all possible assistance to the victims."

Chief Minister Vishnu Deo Sai condoled the deaths and instructed the district administration to provide the best possible medical assistance to the injured.

"Learnt about the tragic accident in which 18 villagers died and four were injured after a pickup vehicle overturned near Bahpani village in Kabirdham district. Necessary instructions have been given to the district administration to provide better treatment to the injured. May the departed souls rest in peace, and I express my deepest condolences to their families. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured," Sai said in a post on 'X'.

(Except for the headline, this story, from a syndicated feed, has not been edited by staff)

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