At least 16 people have been killed and another six injured in a suspected case of electrocution in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand, government officials said.
The incident took place on Wednesday morning inside a sewage treatment plant in the Himalayan state’s Chamoli district as part of a flagship programme of the federal government that focuses on conserving the river Ganga.
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The deceased included a police officer and three personnel from the Home Guard paramilitary, officials said. They said the Home Guard personnel were suspected to have died as they attempted to rescue the police officer.
“We have received news of a grim incident in Chamoli district. A magisterial inquiry has been ordered,” said Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, according to Indian media reports.
He said rescue teams, including from the State Disaster Response Force, were at the spot and helicopters were deployed to shift the injured to bigger hospitals.
“How the incident happened will only become clear after detailed inquiry but it seems, on the surface, to have happened due to electrocution,” said Himanshu Khurana, the Chamoli district magistrate.
The accident occurred as water levels in most rivers in northern India have risen due to record monsoon rains.
Heavy floods have killed more than 100 people in the region in the past three weeks.
In April, 11 people were electrocuted when their truck touched an overhead power line during a Hindu festival procession in southern India.