35 people killed, scores injured in India temple collapse during ceremony
Not less than 35 people have been confirmed dead with dozens of others injured after an Indian temple collapsed as worshippers celebrated a major religious holiday in the central city of Indore on Thursday.
The temple was reported to have plunged into the stepwell, a stair-lined communal water source, after the floor covering it collapsed.
The Indore district magistrate, Ilayaraja T, who spoke to journalists at the scene of the disaster, said:
“Thirty-five people are dead. One person is still missing. We have so far recovered the 35 bodies and the rescue operation is continuing.”
Witnesses said a large crowd of devotees had thronged the temple to perform a fire ritual and celebrate the festival for the deity Rama when the temple carved in.
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“Dozens of people fell into the water when the structure over the well collapsed and were covered by falling debris,” police Commissioner Makrand Deoskar said.
Kantibhai Patel, president of a residents’ association, told reporters that authorities were slow to react and the first ambulance reached the spot an hour after the alert.
“The structure apparently caved in because it could not handle the weight of the large crowd,” the state’s top elected official, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, adding that he has ordered an investigation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in he was “extremely pained” by news of the accident.
“The state government is spearheading rescue and relief work at a quick pace. My prayers with all those affected and their families,” he said in a statement issued by his office.
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