At least 11 people, including two children, have died after being electrocuted when their truck, decorated as a temple chariot, touched an overhead electric power transmission wire during a Hindu festival procession in southern India, police say.
The deaths occurred early on Wednesday when the temple chariot procession was under way in Tamil Nadu state’s Thanjavur district, 340km (210 miles) south of state capital Chennai, police said.
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Another three people suffered burn injuries and were hospitalised in Thanjavur, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to reporters.
More than a dozen people were also injured after the vehicle, a 9 feet (2.7m) high structure fashioned in the form of a chariot and pulled by worshippers, hit the high-voltage lines.
Tamil Nadu | Visuals from Thanjavur Government Medical College and Hospital where the injured patients of the Thanjavur electrocution incident have been admitted. (ANI) pic.twitter.com/ij2wf5BHvR
— The Times Of India (@timesofindia) April 27, 2022
The procession was organised by a local Hindu temple.
The NDTV news channel said the truck, crowded with devotees, also caught fire by the electric spark.
Some of the injured were hurt in falls following the electric shock, and others, who scrambled to escape the flames, when they jumped from the chariot, which carried statues of Hindu deities in addition to the devotees.
The chariot, which had been wending its way back to a nearby temple, was left a charred ruin.
Fire engines and local officials joined the rescue effort.
Tamil Nadu Assembly observes 2-minute silence on the loss of 11 lives in Thanjavur electrocution incident.
"I will visit Thanjavur to meet the injured and deceased's families," announces CM MK Stalin in the Assembly pic.twitter.com/YUCXACCMlY
— ANI (@ANI) April 27, 2022
Thanjavur is an important centre of Hindu religion, art and architecture. The area is known for its heritage temples.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “deeply pained by the mishap”.
“My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of grief. I hope those injured recover soon,” his office posted on Twitter.
Tamil Nadu state’s Chief Minister M K Stalin also expressed his condolences and announced compensation of 500,000 rupees ($6,524) each to the families of those who were killed in the incident.