Bhopal: In a shocking incident, 35 persons died after they fell into a deep stepwell at the Baleshwar Mahadev temple in Madhya Pradesh's Indore during Ram Navami prayers on Thursday.
The slab constructed on top of an ancient `bawdi' or well collapsed during a 'havan' program held on the occasion of Ram Navami at a temple in Indore city on Thursday. So far 35 bodies have been recovered from the stepwell, District Collector Dr Ilayaraja T told reporters. The Beleshwar Mahadev Jhulelal temple in Patel Nagar where the tragedy took place had been constructed after covering the well about four decades ago.
Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan said he has ordered a probe into the incident.
The chief minister has also announced financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for every injured person.
Expressing anguish soon after the accident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had tweeted, Extremely pained by the mishap in Indore. Spoke to CM Shivraj Chouhan Ji and took an update on the situation. The state government is spearheading rescue and relief work at a quick pace. My prayers with all those affected and their families.
The temple was constructed by laying a slab over the bawdi in a covered campus, home minister Mishra said. A probe has been ordered into the matter, particularly to find out how the temple was allowed to be constructed over a bawdi, Mishra said.
Nearly 30-35 devotees fell into the well after the accident at the temple, said Indore Police Commissioner Makrand Deoskar citing eyewitness accounts. Earlier, a witness had put the number at nearly 25.
An eyewitness said that during the religious programme, there was a huge crowd of devotees on the roof of the bawdi in the temple. As the structure could not bear the load of so many people, it caved in, he said.
After the accident, people gathered around the temple looking for their family members who were present on the premises at the time of the tragedy.
Kantibhai Patel, president of Patel Nagar Residents Association, said no ambulance reached the spot for an hour even after authorities were alerted about the accident.
Officials have identified the deceased persons as Lakshmi Patel (70), Bharti Kukreja (58), Jaivanti Khhobchandani (84), Daksha Patel (60), Madhu Bhammani (48), Manisha Motwani (40), Ganga Patel (58), Kanak Patel (32), Pushpa Patel (49), Bhumika Khanchandani (31) and Indra Kumar Harwani (53).
CM Chouhan also spoke to the Indore collector and police commissioner over the phone and directed them to speed up the rescue operation, said an official. Efforts are on with full might to rescue the trapped people, he added.
(With PTI inputs)