Twenty-four migrants were killed and several others were injured after the truck they were traveling in collided with another one in Uttar Pradesh’s Auriya district on Saturday, ANI reported.

The migrants had started their journey from Rajasthan and were going to their villages in Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. They had hitched a ride on a truck transporting food packets, according to NDTV.

Auraiya Chief Medical Officer Archana Srivastava said 15 migrants were in critical condition. “Twenty-four people were brought dead,” she told ANI. “Twenty-two have been admitted and the 15 who were critically injured have been referred to Saifai PGI. They were going to Bihar and Jharkhand from Rajasthan.”

Two station house officers were suspended after the accident, PTI reported. “Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath on Saturday directed that SHOs of two police stations located in state’s border area be suspended and stern warning be issued to the circle officers concerned,” Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi said. “One of the border districts is Agra.” Clarifications have also been sought from senior officers in Agra and Mathura, and Adityanath has issued instructions that nobody is to travel in unsafe vehicles such as trucks.

The district’s circle officer Surendranath Yadav told PTI that the truck hit the other one coming from Delhi. “The accident took place when some of the labourers travelling in the truck coming from Delhi halted on the Auraiya-Kanpur Dehat Road to have tea at a local shop,” he said. “At this point of time, the truck coming from Rajasthan hit the stationary vehicle. The intensity of the hit was so huge that both the vehicles turned upside down and fell into a ditch on the roadside.”

The incident came over a week after 16 migrants were run over by a train in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district. Exhausted from the walk home, they had slept on railway tracks.

Left without means of sustenance since the nationwide lockdown, migrant workers have been forced to return home with their families. Many undertook long journeys on foot, bicycles or holed up in trucks, with little children and elderly parents in tow.

Leaders offer condolences

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences to the families of the migrants. “The road accident in Auraiya is very tragic,” he wrote on Twitter. “The government is busy in relief work. I express my condolences to the families of those killed in this accident, and wish that the injured recover as soon as possible.”

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath expressed his grief over the incident and directed officials to ensure that the injured are provided proper medical care. He also announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the families of the migrants killed in the accident and Rs 50,000 for those injured, according to ANI. The government has suspended two police officers.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also expressed anguish over the incident. “I am hurt by the news of the death of 24 labourers in Auraiya,” he tweeted. “I express my deepest condolences to the families of the deceased.”

Other incidents of migrant workers’ deaths

Six migrant labourers died and 14 were injured in Madhya Pradesh last week after the truck they were travelling in overturned in a village, around 200 km away from Bhopal. On May 7, a migrant worker and his wife were killed in a car crash in Lucknow, while attempting to cycle their way from a village near the city to their hometown in Chhattisgarh. In March, 22 migrant workers died walking to their native places.