Twenty two pilgrims including women and children were killed on Saturday after the van which was carrying them fell into the Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh, according to Indian police.
After the victims, all from the same family, said their prayers at the temples of Lord Sri Venkateswara in Tirumala and Goddess Sri Kanakadurga in Vijayawad the vehicle veered off the road and fell off Dowleswaram barrage.
"The driver appeared to have lost control. The Toofan type van fell into the river after hitting the pavement and the wall," Superintendent of Police S. Hari Krishna from Rajahmundry told reporters at the scene of the accident.
It is estimated that the accident took place after midnight but police became aware of it around 5 a.m.
The police said 21 people died at the scene. A girl who was alive when she was rescued also died in hospital a fews hours after the accident.The lone survivor of the accident is being treated in hospital and is in critical condition.
Many residents rushed to the scene to rescue the 23 passengers who were in travelling the van when the accident occurred but couldn't prevent their deaths. Police said that the capacity of the van was limited to 12 passengers.
Indian Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and opposition YSR Congress Party leader Jaganmohan Reddy expressed condolences to the victims’ families after information was released concerning the accident by the police.
Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister N. Chinna Rajappa blamed the driver for the accident when he visited the scene.
"He was either dozing off or was driving very fast," he said.