Barmer (Rajasthan): The death toll in the Barmer 'pandal' collapse tragedy in Rajasthan has climbed to 15, whereas the number of people injured in the incident stood at 71, officials said Monday.
The incident took place on Sunday when a pandal fell on the people due to strong winds and heavy rains during a religious programme here. "With the death of a man Pokar Ram, the death toll has increased to 15. We have information that 71 people are admitted to various private and government hospital in Barmer," Sub Inspector, Balotara police station, Shaitan Singh said. He said the number of people injured could be higher as some of them had left Barmer for Jodhpur and Ajmer, adding that their information was being collected.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Health Minister Raghu Sharma, Revenue Minister Harish Chaudhary and others Monday met the grieving families of those killed in the incident. Gehlot also visited the accident site in Jasol village and spoke to locals. He paid floral tributes to those who lost their lives and visited the injured in hospitals. "The incident is very unfortunate and a proper inquiry will be conducted," he said. The chief minister also appreciated constables Gomaram and Daularam for their prompt action in providing rescue and relief to the distressed.
Earlier, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Barmer MP Kailash Chaudhary visited hospitals to enquire about the condition of the injured. Governor Kalyan Singh also expressed grief over the incident. "He prayed from the God for the peace of departed souls," a release quoted him on Monday. A 'Ram Katha' was organised at a school ground near Rani Bhatiyani temple in Jasol village of the district on Sunday. The pandal was uprooted by strong winds, trapping the people sitting under it.
More than 1,000 devotees were attending the programme at the time of the incident. Most of those killed were from different villages of Barmer district, including Jasol village, about 460 km from state capital Jaipur, police said. The state government has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of those killed and up to Rs 2 lakh to the injured. An inquiry led by Jodhpur Divisional Commissioner B L Kothari has also been ordered.
Eyewitnesses claimed that the tent got uprooted due to the winds and hovered for a few seconds for several feet in the air before collapsing. Murlidhar Maharaj, who was leading the 'Ram Katha', stopped midway and asked people to leave as the pandal started to collapse. He scurried from the stage within seconds as the structure came down, leading to a stampede-like situation, police said. The religious programme was organised by the Rani Bhatiyani Mandir Sansthan. It started on Saturday and was to continue till June 30.