Dozens dead after Indian temple collapses plunging worshippers into well

temple floor collapse - Xinhua/Shutterstock
temple floor collapse - Xinhua/Shutterstock

At least 36 people have died after the floor of an Indian temple collapsed, sending dozens of worshippers plunging into a well.

Worshippers were celebrating a major religious holiday when they fell into the stepwell - a stair-lined communal water source - on Thursday, in the central city of Indore.

“Seventeen people were rescued yesterday. Thirty-six bodies have been recovered,” said senior police officer Manish Kapooria.

Women, children and an 18-month-old baby were among those standing on the grill covering the well when it gave way, plunging them into about 25 feet of water.

The bodies of dozens of victims were cremated on pyres near the scene of the accident on Friday after brief funeral rites.

Prime minister Narendra Modi said Thursday he was “extremely pained” by news of the accident.

“My prayers with all those affected and their families,” he added.

Mr Modi’s office said compensation payments of 200,000 rupees (£1,966) would be given to the next of kin.

india temple - AP Photo
india temple - AP Photo

Narottam Mishra, home minister of Madhya Pradesh state, told reporters on Thursday that an investigation had been launched into the mishap.

Television footage showed emergency workers using ropes and ladders to reach those trapped in the well in Madhya Pradesh state.

Other videos showed the caved-in floor and mangled steel bars and police officers using ropes to seal the area.

Temples across India were brimming with devotees on the occasion of Ram Navami, the birthday of the Hindu deity Lord Ram.

Deadly accidents are common at worship sites in India during major religious festivals.

At least 112 people died in 2016 after a huge explosion caused by a banned fireworks display at a temple marking the Hindu new year.

The blast ripped through concrete buildings and ignited a fire at a temple complex in Kerala state where thousands had gathered.

Another 115 devotees died in 2013 after a stampede at a bridge near a temple in Madhya Pradesh.

Up to 400,000 people were gathered in the area, and the stampede occurred after a rumour spread that the bridge was about to collapse.

About 224 pilgrims died and more than 400 others were injured in a 2008 stampede at a hilltop temple in the northern city of Jodhpur.