As a 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 the rescue teams have retrieved 35 dead bodies while several others are still reported missing.
The Beleshwar Mahadev Jhulelal temple in Patel Nagar where the tragedy took place had been constructed after covering the well about four decades ago.
Earlier, the State Disaster Response Force DIG Mahesh Chandra Jain told reporters late at night that 12 bodies were found during the rescue operation, while two others died at a hospital.
It was suspected that five more bodies were under water at the bottom of the well, he said.
Ramesh Khatri, one of the locals, said, "My 11-year-old grandson Somesh was in the temple during the havan (fire ritual). He has not been traced yet.”
District Magistrate Dr Ilaiah Raja T said rescue operations, which began on Thursday afternoon, were underway and water in well was being pumped out. Search was going on for tracing the missing people.
An Army rescue team from nearby Mhow town has been called in for help, he said.
State home minister Narottam Mishra said that probe has been ordered into the matter, particularly to find out how the temple was allowed to be constructed over a well.
इंदौर के बालेश्वर महादेव मंदिर में हुई दुर्भाग्यजनक घटना में 13 लोगों की दुखद मौत हुई है।— Dr Narottam Mishra (@drnarottammisra) March 30, 2023
रेस्क्यू किए गए लोगों का समुचित इलाज किया जा रहा है। हादसे की जांच के आदेश दे दिए गए हैं। pic.twitter.com/Cxbbsj4XFc
A magisterial inquiry will be conducted into the incident, he added.Rescue operations were hampered as the temple is located in a narrow area. One of its walls was broken to insert a pipe for pumping out water from the well, officials said.
An eyewitness said that during the religious program on the occasion of Ram Navami, there was a huge crowd of devotees on the slab which covered the ancient well. The slab could not bear the weight and collapsed around 12 noon.
Patel Nagar Residents Association president Kantibhai Patel claimed that ambulances did not reach the spot for more than an hour after being informed about the accident.
Nearly 30-35 devotees fell into the well, Indore Police Commissioner Makrand Deoskar had said earlier citing eyewitness accounts.
Congress MP and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh visited the spot and demanded inquiry.
A civic official said that in response to a notice by Indore Municipal Corporation in April 2022, Beleshwar Mahadev Jhulelal Trust had undertaken to remove the slab constructed over the well, but it did not abide by the undertaking.
How did the government respond?
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced that financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh each would be provided to the families of the deceased and the injured will be given Rs 50,000 each.
आज इंदौर में अत्यंत दुर्भाग्यपूर्ण घटना हुई है। घटना के बाद से ही मैं लगातार प्रशासन के संपर्क में था और रेस्क्यू ऑपरेशन की निगरानी कर रहा था। लोगों को बचाने के इस अभियान में पूरा प्रशासन जुटा हुआ था पर तमाम प्रयासों के बाद भी हम कई जिंदगियों को बचा नहीं पाए। pic.twitter.com/jMqUFLOlLC— Shivraj Singh Chouhan (@ChouhanShivraj) March 30, 2023
Expressing grief over the incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi 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.”
Extremely pained by the mishap in Indore. Spoke to CM @ChouhanShivraj 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.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 30, 2023
(With PTI Inputs)