Tripura: 7 dead, 16 injured as Rath comes in contact with high-tension wire

The incident happened around 4.30 pm in Uttar Pabiacherra in Kumarghat during the 'Ulta Rath Yatra' or return car festival organised by ISKCON, they said

Tripura Rath Yatra mishap (photo courtesy @Comrade__Vijay/Twitter)
Tripura Rath Yatra mishap (photo courtesy @Comrade__Vijay/Twitter)


Seven people, including two children, died of electrocution and 16 others were injured as a Rath or ceremonial chariot of Lord Jagannath came in contact with a high-tension wire in Tripura's Unakoti district on Wednesday, police said.

The incident happened around 4.30 pm in Uttar Pabiacherra in Kumarghat during the 'Ulta Rath Yatra' or return car festival organised by ISKCON, they said.

During this festival, the sibling deities -- Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhdara and Lord Jagannath -- return to their abode in a chariot, a week after Rath Yatra.

Thousands of people were pulling the chariot, made of iron and heavily decorated, when it came in contact with a 133 kv overhead cable. Parts of the Rath immediately caught fire and people fell on the road with their bodies on flame, police said.

Fire Services reached the spot, and brought the situation under control, they said.

Six people died on the spot while one person died while being taken to the GB Pant Hospital in Agartala, they said.

Among the deceased, there were two children and three women, police said.

The injured persons were initially taken to the Kailashahar and Kumarghat hospitals in the district, and later some of them were sent to the GB Pant Hospital in Agartala as their conditions were critical, they said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the incident was saddening.

"The mishap during the Ulta Rath Yatra at Kumarghat is saddening. Condolences to those who have lost their loved ones in this mishap. May the injured recover soon. The local administration is providing all possible assistance to those affected," the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) tweeted, quoting him.

He announced Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) to the next of kin of each deceased, and Rs 50,000 for those injured in the mishap.

Chief Minister Manik Saha went to Kumarghat in the night by train, and met the injured persons.

Accompanied by state minister Tinku Roy, Saha visited the Kumarghat hospital and enquired about the well-being of the people, assuring them of all possible help.

Addressing a press conference late in the night, he announced that the government has ordered a district magistrate-level inquiry into the incident.

"I have visited the spot, and met the injured persons. The government will bear the expenses of their treatment," he said.

"The state government will give Rs 4 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased, and Rs 2.5 lakh to persons who suffered more than 60 percent burn injuries. People whose injuries are not that severe will be given Rs 74,000. This will be in addition to the ex-gratia announced by the prime minister," he added.

State Power Minister Ratan Lal Nath said he has directed the Tripura State Electricity Corporation Ltd to probe the incident, and submit a report immediately.

Leader of Opposition Animesh Debbarma of the Tipra Motha demanded strong action against those behind the lapses, which led to the accident.

"It appears that the incident took place due to lack of alertness of the local administration," he alleged.

The state Congress and CPI(M) also extended condolences to the families of the deceased persons.

The state BJP cancelled all its programmes on Thursday, and said that its president Rajib Bhattacharjee will visit the area.

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