AFP: 18 dead as Indian truck runs over sleeping pilgrims


AHMEDABAD, India — A speeding truck in western India ran over and killed 18 Muslim pilgrims who were sleeping on a roadside early on Thursday morning, police said.
The pilgrims were on their way to a festival at a shrine 90 kilometres (55 miles) from Ahmedabad, Gujarat state’s largest city, when they stopped near a highway cafe to rest for the night.
“In total 18 people have died, including nine women. Ten others are injured,” a Gujarat police official who declined to be named told AFP.
“All the pilgrims were travelling on foot. Sixteen people died on the spot when the truck ran over them, and another two people died at a local hospital,” he said.
Ambulances rushing to help victims were delayed by large crowds who gathered at the accident site. Police said that the truck driver and his assistant fled from the scene.
About 125,000 people, or about 350 a day, died on India’s roads in 2009, according to the latest statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau.
On Wednesday, a bus plunged off a bridge and burst into flames in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, killing 22 people, after the driver tried to avoid another crash.
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