At least 11 people, including a girl and a woman, died while over 80 others took ill on Friday after consuming “prasad” at a temple at Sulavadi village in Chamarajnagar district, officials said.
The condition of eight people being treated in Mysuru is critical.
“A child died at the Government hospital at Ramapura, two each at GH hospitals at Kamageri and Kolegal, three at the KP Hospital and one at KRH Hospital,” said Suresh Shastry, Joint Director, Directorate of Health and Family Welfare Services.
According to police, the foundation laying ceremony of Maramma temple was organised on Friday morning and prasad was distributed after the function.
Expressing grief over the incident, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy announced a relief of Rs 5 lakh to the next to the kin of the deceased.
Kumaraswamy flew to Chamarajnagar by special plane from Belagavi.
He said he has directed the authorities to make all arrangements for those affected and that Government would bear the medical expenses.
“In view of the shortage of ambulances in Chamarajanagar district, 32 ambulances have been rushed from Mysuru,” the CM said.
Two people from the temple management have been detained for questioning, said police sources.
District Health Officer Prasad said it was suspected that poison might have got mixed with the prasad, resulting in the tragic incident.
“We have collected the food samples and sent it to a laboratory for investigation,” he told reporters.
Most of those who attended the event followed the ‘Om Shakti’ tradition. After consuming the prasad, people started vomitting and began writhing with stomach pain, police said. Commotion prevailed as people hurried to nearby hospitals for treatment. Police, as also district authorities, rushed to the spot to provide medical aid.
The Karnataka government will take care of the medical treatment of the hospitalised.
The affected people said they got the smell of kerosene oil in the prasad, but ignored it.
Reports said that many crows were also found dead, after eating the prasad. The police are looking for five more suspects.
Puttaranga Shetty, the minister in charge of Chamarajanagar visited a hospital where those affected are undergoing treatment. He said 47 patients were to Care Hospital in Bengaluru, 17 are in JSS Hospital in Mysuru and others are admitted in different Mysuru hospitals.
(With agency inputs)