Two children among 11 electrocuted during religious procession in southern India

·2-min read

Eleven people, including two children, were electrocuted to death in India after a truck with devotees that was decked up as a 9-feet-high chariot for a Hindu religious procession touched overhead electric wires and sparked a fire.

The incident occurred in Kalimedu village located in southern Tamil Nadu state’s Thanjavur district at around 3am Wednesday after a procession started around midnight, said reports.

Local reports said 15 others also sustained burn injuries and were taken to a hospital in Thanjavur.

Thousands were celebrating a religious festival for Lord Ayyapa when the incident occurred.

Police said devotees were pulling the truck when overhead electric transmission wires touched a dome erected on the vehicle to turn it into a religious chariot.

Three people died on the spot while eight others died from injuries at the Thanjavur Medical College Hospital.

Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin announced an immediate financial assistance of Rs 500,000 (£5,185) for the families of the 11 victims.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi tweeted that the next of kin of those who lost their lives during the tragedy would receive Rs 200,000 (£2,074) each from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.

He said the injured will receive Rs 50,000 (£519).

Eyewitnesses said the incident could have been deadlier as there were puddles of water nearby.

India Today quoted V Balakrishnan, a senior police official, as saying that the state’s electricity department had switched off the low tension wires hanging overhead.

Police is investigating whether a high-tension wire on the side of the road could have caused the fire.

Mr Balakrishnan said the festival was an annual event and hence police were present for protection.

“This is an annual festival and when they were moving the chariot, the accident occurred,” he said.

The Tamil Nadu state assembly observed a two-minute silence to pay respects to those who died.

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