NEW DELHI (AP) — Army soldiers and other rescue workers found 35 bodies inside a well after a structure built on top of it collapsed as a large crowd of Hindu worshipers prayed at a festival to the god Rama, a government official said Friday. state government.
Nearly 140 rescuers used ropes and ladders to pull the bodies out of the well after pumping out the water. A narrow path and debris in the pit made the task difficult.
Dozens of people fell into the shaft at the temple complex in Indore, in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, when the structure collapsed on Thursday and they were covered by falling debris, police commissioner Makrand Deoskar said.
Witnesses said a large crowd of devotees had packed the temple to perform a fire ritual and celebrate the Hindu festival.
The structure apparently collapsed because it could not bear the weight of the large crowd, said the state’s top elected official, Shivraj Singh Chauhan. He ordered an investigation.
“So far we have recovered 35 bodies and the rescue operation is continuing,” Ilayaraja T., the district administrator, said on Friday. A team of rescuers from the army joined the operation on Thursday night.
Chouhan said 18 people were rescued and hospitalized with injuries.
The temple authorities had stopped using the well years ago and covered it with the structure.
The Times of India newspaper said rescue work picked up speed on Thursday night after underwater cameras showed bodies floating in the murky waters of the well.
The mouth of the well was covered with iron bars and tiles several years ago. In January, municipal authorities ordered the temple owners to remove the well cover because it was an unsafe and unauthorized structure, but temple authorities ignored the warning, the newspaper said.
Building collapses are common in India due to poor construction and non-compliance with regulations.
In October, a century-old cable-stayed suspension bridge collapsed into a river in the western state of Gujarat, sending hundreds of people overboard and killing at least 132 in one of the country’s worst accidents in a decade. .
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