Four pilgrims killed as heavy rains damage pandals in Andhra Pradesh(Representation Image)
Four pilgrims died and over 50 others injured at the Ram temple in Ontimitta in Kadapa district when the pandals collapsed as gales accompanied by heavy rain lashed the district, police said.
The mishap took place ahead of Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu's arrival late Friday for the wedding of Lord Rama as part of Rama Navami celebrations. , a senior police official said.
The chief minister was to present silk clothes to the Lord, but about 20 minutes before his arrival, sudden rain coupled with strong winds lashed Ontimitta at around 6.40 pm. The specially-erected pandals for the pilgrims were soaked with rain water while the tin sheet roofs of the pandals were blown away by the gale.
While two persons died when uprooted tin sheets fell on them, one woman died of heart attack and another of electrocution, a police official said over phone from Kadapa.
The main event was, however, not hampered because of a huge rain-proof pandal and provision of generators amid the power outage.
The chief minister arrived over 90 minutes behind schedule because of rain and took part in the rituals.
About 40 of the injured were shifted to the Rajiv Institute of Medical Sciences in Kadapa for treatment.
After attending the celestial wedding, the chief minister visited RIMS at Kadapa and met those undergoing treatment.
He announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 15 lakh each to the kin of those killed and Rs three lakh each to those seriously injured.
A senior official said an inquiry is being conducted into the various lapses that led to the tragedy at the festival.
(With inputs from agencies)