JAIPUR: The makeshift pandal (canopy) that fell during a Ram Katha in Rajasthan’s Barmer district killing 15 people, collapsed due to sudden rain accompanied by gusty winds.
Sachin Mittal, Inspector General of Police, Jodhpur Range, confirmed 12 deaths.
About 1,500 people, including a large number of elderly, were attending the religious gathering. Locals rushed the injured to hospital.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot termed the incident as very sad and directed immediate treatment of the injured. He also asked the district administration to conduct an investigation.
Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Rajiv Swaroop held an emergency meeting at the CMO and asked for a detailed report from the district collector.
The Katha was organised by Shri Rani Bhatiani Temple Institute, Jasol, and had started a day ago.
Internationally renowned preacher Murlidhar Maharaj was giving a discourse when he saw the pandal was about to collapse. He instructed the people to vacate the spot before running away from the spot himself.
Several persons reportedly died because of the spread of electric current in the pandal.
The thunderstorm was reportedly so intense that the pandal was blown in the air and the iron stands supporting it became a conductor of electricity, killing people on the spot.
Local MLA Madan Prajapat hinted at administration’s lapse.
“Many religious events take place here. But the question is whether the administration’s lapse caused this accident, was any permission taken for the event and were there ambulances present?”
Minister of Disaster Management Master Bhanwarlal said the administration was looking into the matter.
“Had the organisers been careful, it could’ve been avoided. Looking at the weather, they should have been prepared. The tent had pipes and electric wires. We’ll get to the bottom of the matter after a probe,” he said.