Dozens killed in Hindu temple disaster

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According to officials, the death toll from a fatal floor collapse at a Hindu temple in the central Indian city of Indore has risen to 36.

On Thursday, worshippers gathered inside the Beleswar Mahadev Jhulelal temple for the Ram Navami festival. The weight of dozens of people caused a floor to collapse, causing them to fall into an indoor stepwell.

“The main cause of death could be drowning because the well was 60 feet (18.3 meters) deep and full of water,” Ilayaraja T., a top local official, told Reuters. Authorities believe 80 people were at the temple when the tragedy occurred, and the search for survivors is ongoing. He also stated that 16 people were injured.

Stepwells were common in Indian architecture until the nineteenth century. Ornate and multi-level wells are now among the top tourist attractions in the country.

According to a survivor, the collapsed floor was not reinforced with concrete and was made entirely of “stone slabs and iron rods.” According to the Hindustan Times, police have opened a criminal investigation into two senior managers of the private trust that runs the temple, both of whom are still at large.

According to NDTV, local authorities planned to demolish the well’s roof in 2022 because residents claimed it was built in violation of environmental regulations. The trust reportedly cancelled the demolition because it would have “hurt religious sentiments.”

On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “extremely pained” by the incident and expressed condolences to the victims and their families.