Idukki, Kerala: 100 people are feared killed and more than 90 people have been injured in a stampede at the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala's Idukki district. The incident took place seven kilometres away from the shrine. 55 bodies have been recovered so far. (First pictures)
Sabarimala's Special Commissioner, Rajendra Nayar told NDTV that 100 people are feared killed. He that the stampede occurred after a accident which cause panic amongst the devotees. (Watch)
Reports suggest that the accident and the consequent stampede occurred in a hilly area, beyond the Sabarimala police protection area. The terrain has made rescue and relief operations difficult.
"A jeep went out of control and went and hit the devotees who were there. People have been killed because of the crash and also because of the stampede. Most of the casualties happened because of the stampede according to preliminary reports." Kerala's Education Minister M A Baby told NDTV.
"Idukki is a hilly area. So naturally this is a distant place. The accident took place at about 8:15 pm. The Chief Minister, Home Minister, other administrative heads have contacted the district administration. We are totally focused on providing the best treatment, rescuing the injured, recovering the dead bodies. Most of those killed are from other states. Among those who have been killed, most of them are from Tamil Nadu," he added. (Watch)
Defence Minister AK Antony has assured all possible help from the army in rescue operations. The Director General of the Kerala Police, and other top officials have rushed to the area.
The devotees were returning after Makaravilakku ritual in Sabarimala.
Thousands of devotees had turned up for worship at the hill shrine during the 'makara samkrama pooja' on Friday evening, marking the finale of two-month pilgrimage to the famous Lord Ayyappa temple.
They were returning after 'makara jyoti', held as a divine light by the devotees, which flickered across the eastern horizon above the Ponnambalamedu after the pooja.
The pooja was conducted with the idol of the deity adorned with the holy jewels "Thiruvabharanam", brought to the sanctum sanctorum in a ceremonial procession moments before the 'aarti'.
(With PTI inputs)