At least 15 people were killed and 26 injured when a massive tent erected for people attending a religious gathering at Barmer in Rajasthan on Sunday collapsed as a storm hit the area, police said.
“Around 1,000 people had gathered under a tent to listen to Ram Katha in Jasol village of Balotra area when a storm played havoc around 3.30 p.m. Most participants were senior citizens,” District Collector Himanshu Gupta was quoted as saying by IANS.
There were also claims that many of the victims were electrocuted after an electric wire broke in the storm and fell to the ground.
An eyewitness said: “The breaking of the wire in the rain led to a stampede in which many people were electrocuted.”
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has ordered an inquiry into the incident. Action will be taken based on the inquiry report.
The CM further said that the government is mulling to issue an advisory regarding arrangements and security at such events to prevent similar incidents in future.
Meanwhile, Gehlot has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the next of the kin of those who lost their lives and Rs 2 lakh each to the injured.
Union Minister and Barmer MP Kailash Chaudhary offered his condolences to the departed souls and their family members. He said he has spoken with the CM Ashok Gehlot and Home Minister Amit Shah on the incident.
Chaudhary also visited the hospital where those injured in the “pandal” collapse are receiving treatment.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also extended his condolences. “Collapse of a pandaal in Rajasthan’s Barmer is unfortunate. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and I wish the injured a quick recovery,” he tweeted.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi also expressed his deep anguish at the loss of life, terming it “extremely sad and unfortunate”. In a tweet in Hindi, he prayed for peace for the departed souls, strength to their grieving families and hoped that the injured recover soon.
Former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje tweeted: “Extremely sad to hear about the death of over dozen people in Jasol in Barmer who were listening to Ram Katha. I pray to God for the departed soul and to give patience to the grief-stricken families.”