Seven people were killed and around 90 others injured when heavy rains accompanied by lightning and squall flattened and uprooted makeshifts tents of pilgrims in and around the site of ongoing Simhatha Kumbh Mela here this evening.
“Seven people have been killed and 90 other injured in and around the Mela area,” Ujjain Divisional Commissioner Ravindra Pastaur told PTI. The second ‘Shahi Snan’ (royal bath) is slated for May 9.
Prima facie, the casualties resulted due to collapse of tents and some gates erected at the Kumbh area.
Among the deceased is a woman pilgrim who was killed in Undasa area when lightning struck her.
According to police official B S Chauhan, nearly a third of the tents put up by the pilgrims were blown away in the squall.
It will take at least a week to erect them again, he said.
Authorities fear that the death toll may rise as the rescuers are clearing the collapsed tents and pulling out the people trapped under them.
Terming the incident as painful, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each to the kin of the deceased persons and Rs 50,000 to seriously injured and Rs 25,000 to the minor injured, an official spokesman said.
Chouhan would visit Ujjain tomorrow to take stock of the situation.
He tweeted that rescue teams, officials and public representatives have reached the spot and that they will take care of the pilgrims.
The rain made large parts of the Mela ground slushy, making the rescue operation difficult. Authorities have cut off the electricity supply to the area as a precautionary measure.
The deceased have been identified as Rumal Kaur, Amba Bai, Prahlad, Bhagirath, Rishi Prasad and Bhuti Bai, District Hospital Police Post Head Constable Babulal said.
However, the identity of the woman pilgrim who was killed in Undasa area is not established yet.
According to eye witnesses, a big drainage suffered a breach on Ramghat on the banks of Kshipra river as a result of which filthy water is gushing into the river.
The state government has spent more than Rs 3,600 crore for developing infrastructure and facilities for the month-long congregation.