The victims died due to suffocation after they were buried in the clinker material as the 12-tyre truck in which 35 agricultural labourers were travelling fell on the roadside at Gandepalli village in East Godavari early today, District Collector H Arun Kumar told PTI.
Sixteen bodies have been taken out so far, he said. The victims, who worked in a palm plantation, had boarded the vehicle in neighbouring West Godavari district. The vehicle was coming from Dachepalli village in Guntur district, he said.
Eight persons sustained injuries in the accident and all of them are out of danger. They have been admitted to a government hospital in Rajahmundry.
The accident took place as the driver lost control over the wheel after apparently falling asleep. Both the driver and cleaner were absconding after the mishap, Kumar said. 35 people were reported to be travelling in the truck, and 32 have been accounted for so far, the Collector said, adding the whereabouts of the others were being ascertained.
The job of clearing the debris was on. State Finance Minister Y Ramakrishnudu, who belongs to East Godavari, visited the spot and announced an ex-gratia of Rs two lakh to the families of the deceased.
Observing that the government has initiated several measures to prevent road accidents, he said such tragedies often happen due to over-speeding and the drivers not being alert.
"In this case, this vehicle is not involved in the accident with any other vehicle. The vehicle itself tilted," he said.
Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Leader of Opposition in state Assembly Y S Jaganmohan Reddy and several other leaders expressed condolences over the death of the workers in the mishap.