A truck ploughed into a crowd of farmers staging a protest in southern India on Friday, killing at least 13 people and injuring several others, police said. File pix

NEW DELH: A truck ploughed into a crowd of farmers staging a protest in southern India on Friday, killing at least 13 people and injuring several others, police said.

The accident occurred when the driver lost control of the vehicle and struck an electricity pole, before crashing into the group demonstrating outside a police station in Andhra Pradesh state.

“The driver was driving rashly and negligently. We have launched an investigation to find out if he was under the influence of alcohol,” a local police officer told AFP without giving his name.

“Some 20 people are injured and they are undergoing treatment in various hospitals.”

The Press Trust of India reported that the driver fled the scene after mowing down the protesters – who were demonstrating against illegal sand mining – and crashing into some shops.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed anguish at the loss of life, and offered his condolences to the families of the victims.

State Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu announced compensation of 500,000 rupees (US$7,700) each for the families of the dead.

India has some of the world’s deadliest roads with more than 150,000 fatalities annually due to poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.

On Wednesday, a bus swerved off a mountain road in northern India, killing 44 people. -- AFP

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