At least 14 people have died, and 50 sustained injuries when a massive tent erected for people attending a religious gathering collapsed during a dust storm in Rajasthan's Barmer on Sunday, police said.
Police said the death toll could go up as a huge crowd had gathered to listen to a Ramkatha discourse in Jasol village in Balotra area of Barmer. The injured were rushed to the nearby hospital.
A 'Ram Katha' was organised at Jasol area of the district when the pandal was uprooted by strong winds trapping the people sitting under it, Additional Superintendent of Police, Khinv Singh, said.
Speaking to IANS, Balotra Sub-Inspector Khetaram said: "The exact number of the dead will be given after some time. Right now, the entire police machinery is busy providing medical aid to the injured and helping control the crowd."
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has expressed condolences to the families of the deceased. Gehlot also said that rescue operation at the site of the incident is currently underway, and the authorities have been directed to ensure proper treatment to those injured at the earliest.
Hours later, Gehlot announced Rs 5 lakh each to the next of the kin of those who lost their lives in the incident. The injured will be given maximum assistance of Rs 2 lakh.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to Twitter and condoled the deaths of devotees, calling the collapse of pandal "unfortunate".
Collapse of a ‘Pandaal’ in Rajasthan’s Barmer is unfortunate. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and I wish the injured a quick recovery: PM @narendramodi— PMO India (@PMOIndia) June 23, 2019
(With inputs from agencies)