Eleven electrocuted in India temple procession

At least 11 people were electrocuted and 15 others were injured during a religious procession taken out by a temple in Tamil Nadu in southern India.

The accident occurred when the temple chariot came in contact with a high-transmission live wire in Thanjavur district, police said.

Two children were among the dead. Officials said the toll could go up as some of the injured were critical.

A case has been lodged and police have opened an investigation.

Fire and rescue services official Bhanupriya, who uses only one name, told BBC Tamil that a generator which was powering the chariot got stuck on a curve in the road. While adjusting it, the top of the chariot came in contact with the high-voltage wire.

Eyewitnesses said the toll could have been much higher if it was not for a puddle of water on the road – around 50 devotees walking alongside the chariot had stepped aside mere seconds ago to avoid it.

Senior police officials told NDTV news channel that the high-voltage line along the procession route is normally turned off. But this time, the supply was not cut off because the chariot was not tall enough to touch the power lines.

“But it seems that decorations on it increased its height and it came into contact with the live wire,” NDTV reported, quoting a senior police official.

A video of the incident showed the chariot completely destroyed.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin is travelling to Thanjavur to visit the site of the accident and to meet the families of the bereaved. His office has announced financial assistance of 500,000 rupees ($6,542; £5,185) for the families of those killed in the accident.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was “deeply pained” by the accident. “My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of grief,” he wrote and promised assistance of 200,000 rupees ($2,608; £2,073) to the families of the dead.