MUMBAI: At least 40 people drowned across Maharashtra, MP, Delhi and UP in the last 24 hours in incidents related to immersion of Ganpati idols.
The biggest tragedy occurred in Bhopal when 11 people drowned after two boats tied together and carrying a huge Ganesh idol capsized in Lower Lake on Friday. This is the single largest loss of life during an accident in Bhopal in decades.
Twenty three deaths were reported from 11 districts in Maharashtra while four youths drowned in Delhi and two in UP’s Moradabad. All the victims in Bhopal were from the same locality, ‘100 Quarters’, which had cheered its youngsters on Thursday night during the visarjan procession — and took out their funeral processions the next day. The deceased included 12-year-old Parvez, whose janaza (bier) was carried on Friday by his Hindu neighbours.
PM Narendra Modi expressed grief at the Bhopal tragedy and tweeted: “In this hour of grief, our thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives.”
Four officers, including an assistant sub-inspector, have been suspended. MP CM Kamal Nath announced Rs 11-lakh compensation to each of the bereaved families and ordered a magisterial inquiry.
In a viral video, some people are heard repeatedly shouting to the group to sit down and stay calm. The boats had travelled barely 50 feet from the bank when the idol started slipping.
Three seconds after the idol hit the water, the youths’ cheers turned into screams when they realized one of the boats was sinking. The video shows the splashes of the victims growing fainter and fainter even as two other boats paddle to reach them.
In Maharashtra, 23 deaths were reported since Thursday night from Pune, Nagpur, Mumbai, Amravati, Nashik, Thane, Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Dhule, Bhandara, Nanded, Ahmednagar, Akola and Satara districts.
Three persons drowned in two lakes near Chakan, about 45km from Pune, during the immersion of Ganesh idols on Thursday. A 19-year-old boy drowned in the river in Nagpur on Thursday. Four people drowned in Amravati, three in Ratnagiri, two each in Nashik, Sindhudurg and Satara, one each in Mumbai, Thane, Dhule, Buldhana, Akola and Bhandara. Most of the victims were youths, officials said.
Search was on for another person, who was feared drowned in a lake along the Pune-Nashik highway .
In Delhi, four youths, including two girls died after they waded into the Yamuna near Alipur to take a bath after immersing a Ganesh idol on Thursday night. The youths had argued with cops and civil defence volunteers who had stopped them from reaching the ghat with the idol as immersion in the river is banned. However, after some time, they jumped into the river from another poin.
Two teenagers died in Moradabad district during immersion of an idol.