Indore accident: what happened as at least 35 killed after temple in India collapses
The structure apparently caved in because it could not handle the weight of the crowd which had gathered to perform a fire ritual and celebrate the festival for Rama
At least 35 people have died after a structure built over an old temple well in India collapsed whilst a large crowd of devotees prayed at a festival on Thursday (30 March). A number of people fell into the well in the temple complex in Indore in central Madhya Pradesh state and were covered by falling debris, Police Commissioner Makrand Deoskar said.
The structure apparently caved in because it could not handle the weight of the large crowd. The state’s top elected official, Shivraj Chauhan, has ordered an investigation.
According to local news reports, temple authorities had stopped using the well years ago and covered it with the structure. Witnesses said a large crowd of devotees had thronged the temple to perform a fire ritual and celebrate the festival for Rama, one of the most widely worshipped Hindu deities.
Officials have said that 35 bodies have been found inside the well at the Hindu temple in central India after a number of people fell into the muddy water when the well’s cover collapsed. Footage of Thursday’s collapse at the temple complex in Indore in Madhya Pradesh state showed chaos afterward, with people rushing towards the exits.
An excavator pulled down a wall of the decades-old temple to help people flee.
Nearly 140 rescuers, including army personnel, used ropes and ladders to pull the bodies from the well after pumping out the water, however the narrow path and debris in the well made the task difficult.
Witnesses said a large crowd of devotees had thronged the temple to perform a fire ritual and celebrate the festival for the deity Rama.
Kantibhai Patel, president of a residents’ association, told reporters that authorities were slow to react and the first ambulance arrived an hour after the alert.
How many have died?
A district administrator said: “We have so far recovered 35 bodies and the rescue operation is continuing.”
Rescue efforts continued into Friday, with a team of army rescuers joining the operation on Thursday night.
The Times of India newspaper reported that the rescue work was expedited after underwater cameras showed bodies floating in the muddy waters of the well.
The state’s top elected official, Shivraj Chauhan, has said 33 of the bodies have been identified and one person is unaccounted for. Sixteen of the people who were injured remain in hospital on Friday.
Temple authorities had reportedly stopped using the well years ago and covered the mouth with iron grills and tiles. Municipal authorities in January had ordered temple owners to remove the well’s covering because it was an unsafe and unauthorised structure, but temple authorities ignored the warning, the Times of India said.
Building collapses are common in India because of poor construction and a failure to observe regulations.
In October, a century-old cable suspension bridge collapsed into a river in the western state of Gujarat, sending hundreds of people plunging into the water and killing at least 132 in one of the worst accidents in the country in the past decade.