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Death toll in India temple collapse rises to 36

AFP . New Delhi
31 Mar 2023 09:29:18 | Update: 31 Mar 2023 16:19:02
Death toll in India temple collapse rises to 36
— Collected Photo

The death toll after a floor collapsed at a Hindu temple in India had risen to 36 on Friday after rescuers discovered the body of the last person still missing, police told AFP. 

Dozens of worshippers celebrating a major religious holiday plunged into the stepwell –- a stair-lined communal water source -- on Thursday after the floor covering it collapsed in the central city of Indore.

"Seventeen people were rescued yesterday. Thirty-six bodies have been recovered," senior police officer Manish Kapooria told AFP. 

Women, children and an 18-month-old baby were among those standing on the grill covering the well when it buckled and gave way, plunging them into about 7.5 metres (25 feet) of water.

The bodies of dozens of victims were cremated on pyres near the scene of the accident on Friday after brief funeral rites. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Thursday he was "extremely pained" by news of the accident. 

"My prayers with all those affected and their families," he added.

Modi's office said compensation payments of 200,000 rupees ($2,400) would be given to the next of kin.

Narottam Mishra, home minister of Madhya Pradesh state, told reporters on Thursday that an investigation had been launched into the mishap.

Television footage on Thursday showed emergency workers using ropes and ladders to reach those trapped in the well in Madhya Pradesh state.

Other videos showed the caved-in floor and mangled steel bars as well as police officers using ropes to seal the area.

Temples across India were brimming with devotees on the occasion of Ram Navami, the birthday of the Hindu deity Lord Ram.

Deadly religious accidents

Deadly accidents are common at worship sites in India during major religious festivals. 

At least 112 people died in 2016 after a huge explosion caused by a banned fireworks display at a temple marking the Hindu new year. 

The blast ripped through concrete buildings and ignited a fire at a temple complex in Kerala state where thousands had gathered.

Another 115 devotees died in 2013 after a stampede at a bridge near a temple in Madhya Pradesh.

Up to 400,000 people were gathered in the area, and the stampede occurred after the spread of a rumour that the bridge was about to collapse.

About 224 pilgrims died and more than 400 others were injured in a 2008 stampede at a hilltop temple in the northern city of Jodhpur.