Mrunal Manmay Dash

In a tragic accident, Eight persons lost their lives and seven others were critically injured after the van they were travelling in rear-ended a truck parked on National Highway-20 near Balijodi in Keonjhar, just a few kilometres away from Maa Tarini shrine in the wee hours of Friday.

The van with 19 persons on board was on its way to Maa Tarini shrine in Ghatagaon from Digapahandi in Ganjam when the mishap occurred.

While seven passengers of the van died on the spot, one other succumbed in the hospital. 

As per reports, the deceased belonged to two families from Podamari in Digapahandi. Some deceased were relatives of former Rajya Sabha MP Renubala Pradhan.

The injured were admitted to Ghatagaon hospital for treatment. Later, they were shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack after their health deteriorated.

While the exact reason behind the accident is yet to be ascertained, it is suspected that the driver who was speeding on the highway lost sight of the parked truck and hit it from the rear.

The accident was so severe that the van turned into a mangled heap.

Ghatagaon SDPO Surashan Gangai, who reached the spot following the accident, said, "19 persons from two families from Digapahandi were on their way to avail Maa Tarini's darshan in Ghatagaon. The van came with high speed and hit a truck from behind parked on the Highway. we will take steps to stop trucks from parking on the road." 

Worthwhile to mention here that thousands of iron ore-laden trucks parked on the National Highway leading up to the mining towns of Barbil and Joda in Keonjhar is a common sight on that stretch. While this kind of dangerous parking has resulted in many accidents and loss of lives in the past, the practice still continues.

Later in the day, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National Vice President Baijayant Panda expressed his condolences over the accident. Taking to 'X', he wrote, "I am deeply saddened to hear the news of a fatal road accident near Balijodi, Ghatgaon in Keonjhar district. I express my deepest condolences to the bereaved family and pray to Maa Tarini for the speedy recovery of the injured."

In another such accident, five persons were critically injured after their car hit a parked Hyva truck from behind on National Highway-16 near Gelapur square in Bhadrak on late Thursday night.

As per reports, the car was moving from Purunabazar in Bhadrak town to Dobal in Dhamnagar when they rear-ended the parked truck.

While all the five injured were rushed to the Bhadrak hospital for treatment, three of them were later shifted to Cuttack after their health condition deteriorated.