Kumily (Kerala): As the death toll in the stampede near the Sabarimala temple mounted to 104 on Saturday, doctors at a government hospital in this Kerala town busied themselves in one of the biggest post-mortem procedures in the state.
A team of 60 doctors began the grim task at the Kumily government hospital, some 15 km from the accident site in Idukki district.
Hospital authorities said 20 autopsies are being conducted at a time.
One Sri Lankan is among those killed, while 18 are from Tamil Nadu, 12 hail from Karnataka, six from Andhra Pradesh and three belong to Kerala, hospital oficial said.
Idukki Congress MP PT Thomas said 71 bodies have so far reached the Vandiperiyar hospital, where all the bodies are being brought after which their autopsy is being conducted at Kumily.
As some of the doctors were busy conducting autopsies, pilgrims tried to identify their near and dear ones among the dead.
Several other doctors treated the scores of injured also being rushed to the hospital. At least 60 people are said to have sustained injuries in the tragedy.
The stampede near the famed Sabarimala temple occurred around 8.00 PM on Friday when the pilgrims were returning after watching the celestial Makara Jyothi light, the most important event of the pilgrimage, from a hillock some 30 km from the Sabarimala temple.
The tragedy took place in Pulumedu, a forested area about 10 km from the Vandiperiyar town, and about 30 km from the Sabarimala temple in Pathanamthitta district.
The bodies were first brought to the Vandiperiyar government hospital and from there it was moved to the hospital in Kumily.
“Around 43 bodies have been identified so far and a majority of the dead are from nearby states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. So far three Malayalis are reported dead,” said senior Congress leader EM Augusthy.
State Finance Minister Thomas Issac reached the hospital and said that the state government will meet the expenses for treating the injured, including those being treated in private hospitals in Idukki and Kottayam districts.
“We are told the gruesome accident took place around 8.00 PM at Pulumedu. The entire place was full of vehicles and more than a lakh of pilgrims were returning from a hillock after seeing the celestial light that appeared on the horizon soon after 7 PM,” Issac said.
“Suddenly a jeep that broke down lost control and rammed into the waiting pilgrims. This created panic, leading to the stampede,” said Thomas.