At least 19 people died when a roof of a shelter at a cremation facility in northern India collapsed on Sunday, police said.
The roof at the site, in Uttar Pradesh state’s Ghaziabad district, came down when some 40 people had taken shelter beneath the structure to get out of the rain, trapping them under the rubble, divisional commissioner Anita C Meshram said.
Keep readinglist of 3 items
Many victims were relatives of a local resident whose last rites were being conducted at the time, according to reports.
The cause of the collapse was not immediately clear, but the authorities plan to investigate the accident.
“We will conduct an inquiry into the matter and find who is responsible – whether it is the builder, officials, or workers of the municipal council, as soon as possible,” Meshram said.
Meanwhile, area police chief Iraj Raja told dpa news agency: “The roof at the cremation compound, over some 30 metres long, collapsed suddenly and 38 people were trapped. Nineteen people were killed on the scene or while being taken to two hospitals nearby.”
Nineteen more were being treated at the hospitals. The death toll could increase, as some of the wounded sustained serious injuries, Raja added.
Rescue workers were going through the rubble to determine if there were more victims, police said.
Local authorities said they had launched an inquiry into the accident. They promised strict action if it was found that officials had been lax.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind sent their condolences, even as state agencies directed monetary compensation to the victims’ kin.