A stampede during a local temple festival killed seven devotees and injured ten others near Thuraiyur, about 45 km from Tiruchirappalli , on Sunday, police said. The tragedy occurred when hundreds of people gathered for the 'padikasu' (temple coin) distribution ceremony, held as part of annual 'Chithira Pournami' festival, at the 'Karuppasamy' (a rural deity) temple in Muthiampalayam village.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami expressed anguish over the loss of lives in the incident.
While Modi announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the families of the victims, Palaniswami ordered a solatium of Rs one lakh each and Rs 50,000 to the injured.
The stampede occurred when the priest started distributing the coins and a section of devotees surged forward to collect them, police said.
Seven people, including four women, died on the spot while ten others were seriously injured and have been hospitalised, they said.
Distribution of the coins is the main event of the festival, which draws a large number of devotees from in and around the village. Devotees believe keeping the temple coins at home in their cash box will bring prosperity.
A temple official, on condition of anonymity, said there was no effort to control the crowd nor was there enough security personnel to bring the situation under control.
District authorities said the matter was being looked into and action would be taken against those responsible for the mishap.