Rajamundry, Oct 30 : Seven members of a marriage party died when a goods carrier auto- rickshaw carrying 16 passengers rolled down from a hilltop outside a temple at Thantikonda village of East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh, police officials said on Friday.
Nearly 10 other people suffered injuries in the accident.
“The auto-rickshaw carrying around 16 passengers, was returning from a wedding function when it rolled down at around 2.30 a.m.on Friday.Seven persons died in the accident,” Shemushi Bajpai, Rajamundry Urban Superintendent of Police (SP), told IANS.
The deceased have been identified as Yalla Sridevi, 35 and Yalla Naga Sri Laxmi, 10, from Divancheruvu, Kambala Bhanu, 35, (Gokavaram), Chaganti Hemali Srilatha, 18, (Gadarada), Simhadri Prasad, 25, (Takurpalem), Pachikuri Narasimha Dora, 35, (Gangampalem) and S.Gopala Krishna, 65, (Chebrolu).
Bajpai said the accident took place because of the negligence of Dora, the auto-rickshaw driver.
The auto rolled down the steps leading to the hill temple.
The accident took place at the beginning of the return journey, even as two to three versions are doing the rounds about the cause.
According to the police, Dora was at the top of the Thantikonda Venkateshwara Swamy temple during the wedding, which started at around 11 p.m.on Thursday night.
The temple is around 130 km northeast of Bhimavaram.
He had parked the vehicle on the hill and got ready for the return journey around 2.30 a.m.
To reach the foot of the hill, there are steps as well as a ghat road beside them.The steps are a short distance from the parking place.
Some of the injured told the police that the driver also tried to accommodate some luggage in the vehicle and must have stepped on the throttle instead of the clutch mistakenly in that process.
“Others are saying that he could have started the vehicle using the slope of the hill by pressing the clutch and shifting the gear, without using the key ignition as some autos have a weak battery, which may have caused the accident,” said a police official.
Five people died on the spot and two others in the hospital.Those who got injured fell on either side of the auto, falling on trees and thereby saving themselves.
“As the auto tilted, some people fell in either direction, falling on the trees and getting saved.Had everybody been in the auto, all would have died.Those who fell on the sides got injured,” the official said.
Police have registered a case under IPC Sections 304 A and 338.
Most of the dead were locals from Gokavaram mandal, eking out a living doing small jobs or farming.
Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan expressed profound grief over the accident and loss of lives.
Harichandan instructed the district administration to provide the necessary medical treatment to the injured.
He also expressed heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members