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Odisha’s ‘Zero Fatality Week’ Marred by Fatal Road Mishap: Eight Dead, Several Injured

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At least eight individuals, including three women and a child, lost their lives while eight others sustained injuries in a fatal road accident in Odisha’s Keonjhar district. The mishap occurred on the first day of the state government’s ‘Zero Fatality Week,’ aimed at curbing the number of road accidents during the early winter season.

The tragedy unfolded on National Highway 20 near Balijodi village in Ghatagon area when a vehicle carrying 20 people rammed into a stationary truck. The occupants of the vehicle, en route to visit a temple, faced the brunt of the collision.

Seven individuals tragically lost their lives on the spot, while another succumbed to injuries at a local hospital. Five of the injured were undergoing treatment at Keonjhar district headquarters hospital, with three others shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack due to the severity of their conditions.

Expressing condolences over the incident, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced an ex-gratia of Rs 3 lakh for the next of kin of each deceased. Patnaik also directed officials to ensure free treatment for those injured in the road mishap.

The victims, hailing from Pudamari village in Ganjam district, were on their way to seek the blessings of Goddess Tarini. The accident, suspected to have occurred when the driver dozed off, unfolded merely three kilometres away from their intended destination.

An investigation into the tragic incident has been initiated by the police during the ‘Zero Fatality Week,’ a period marked by increased vigilance to minimize road accidents. The state government observes this week annually from December 1, recognizing the surge in vehicular movement as people embark on winter picnics.

V K Pandian, chairman of Odisha’s 5T (transformation initiatives) and Nabin (New) Odisha programs, extended his condolences and communicated with the district collectors of Keonjhar and Ganjam to ensure coordinated efforts in aiding the victims. The incident serves as a stark reminder of the challenges associated with road safety during peak travel seasons and underscores the importance of ongoing initiatives to prevent such tragic occurrences.

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