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The site of the truck accident in Auria, India. The site of the truck accident in Auria, India.  

India Covid-19 lockdown: 23 migrants die in truck crash

The tragedy took place early Saturday morning in Mihauli area of Auraiya district in Uttar Pradesh state.

By Robin Gomes

The truck carrying around 50 migrant labourers was coming from Rajasthan when it collided with another truck parked near a roadside eatery, reports said.  

The trailer truck, carrying around 50 migrant labourers, was coming from Rajasthan when it collided with another truck a van coming from Delhi, reports said.

According to Auraiya District Magistrate Abhishek Singh, most of the workers were reportedly from the eastern states of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Some 35 have been reported injured.

Migrants stranded amid lockdown

In an effort to contain the spread of Covid-19, the government imposed a lockdown with only four hours' notice on March 24, forcing its 1.3 billion citizens indoors for nearly 2 months.

All public transport, including train, bus and air services, have been suspended. Thousands of migrant workers, most of them daily-wage earners, lost their jobs and suddenly found themselves stranded on the road without money, food and transport to return home.

With no work - and little public transport - many urban migrants in desperate attempts to return to their home villages have set out on gruelling journeys on foot, or hitching rides in the back of trucks.

Tragedies

On May 8, 16 migrant workers, who had fallen asleep on a railway track due to exhaustion from walking for an extended period of time, were run over by a freight train near Aurangabad in Maharashtra State.

Another 5 workers were killed on May 9 in a truck accident in Narsinghpur District in Madhya Pradesh State.

On May 13, 6 migrants walking back home Bihar were crushed to death by a speeding truck in Muzaffarnagar, also in Uttar Pradesh.

The Indian Railways on Tuesday began to gradually restart passenger trains with a series of requirements which most migrant workers cannot meet.

The government and charities have tried to set up shelter homes for the impoverished daily-wage earners but their numbers are simply overwhelming, leaving them little choice but to head on a perilous journey home.

Officially, India’s internal migrants number 454 million, or 37 per cent of its 1.2 billion people. But experts in migrant issues say the numbers are grossly underestimated. At least half of the migrants are unskilled and unorganized workers who have no job security.

Meanwhile, coronavirus infections in India crossed 85,000 on Saturday, surpassing China, though officials credited the lockdown for slowing the contagion.

16 May 2020, 16:27