May 18, 2024

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A well cover collapsed in an Indian temple, killing 35 people

A well cover collapsed in an Indian temple, killing 35 people

Army soldiers and other responders found 35 bodies inside a well after a building built above it collapsed while a large crowd of Hindu believers at a festival prayed to Lord Rama, a state government official said Friday.

Approximately 140 rescuers used ropes and ladders to pull the bodies out of the well after the water was pumped out. The narrow track and debris in the well made the job difficult.

Dozens of people fell into the well at the temple complex in Indore, central Madhya Pradesh state, when the structure collapsed on Thursday and was covered in falling rubble, Commissioner of Police Makrand Dioskar said.

Eyewitnesses said that a large crowd of devotees gathered at the temple to perform fire rituals and celebrate the Hindu festival.

The state’s chief elected official, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, said the structure apparently collapsed because it could not bear the weight of the large crowd. He ordered an investigation.

“So far we have recovered 35 bodies and the rescue operation is continuing,” Illiyaraja T., an administrative official in the district, said on Friday. A team of army rescuers joined the operation on Thursday night.

Chauhan said 18 people were rescued and taken to hospital with injuries.

The temple authorities stopped using the well years ago and covered it in the structure.

The Times of India newspaper said rescue work was expedited on Thursday night after underwater cameras showed bodies floating in the muddy waters of the well.

The well’s mouth was covered with iron grates and tiles several years ago. The newspaper said that the municipal authorities ordered the temple owners in January to remove the well’s lid because it was an unsafe and unauthorized building, but the temple authorities ignored the warning.

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Building collapses are common in India due to poor construction and failure to observe regulations.

In October, a century-old suspension bridge collapsed into a river in the western state of Gujarat, plunging hundreds of people into the water and killing at least 132 in one of the worst accidents in the country in the past decade.

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Find out more from the Associated Press’ Asia-Pacific coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/asia-pacific