TN temple chariot accident: Who to blame? Eyewitnesses narrate their versions

THANJAVUR: The temple chariot accident in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu that claimed the lives of 11 people happened when the people pulling the chariot tried to take it back to the Appar Swamy Mutt after the procession covered all the houses in the area in the early hours of Wednesday.
The procession began in Kalimedu village around midnight. The decorated chariot carrying the idol of Appar Swamy was stopped in front of every house in the area for performing pujas.
Almost all the houses were covered at by 3am. Around 50 people were pulling it. They tried to take a u-turn on the Thanjavur-Budhalur to take the chariot back to the mutt. There were low lying power cables on both sides of the road.
While the people were trying to pull the chariot back to the mutt, its tip came in contact with a livewire. The chariot caught fire. Ten people were electrocuted on the spot, and 18 others sustaining injuries. Bharani, 13, who suffered injuries in the accident, died while undergoing treatment in Government Medical College Hospital in Thanjavur.
S Raja, an eyewitness whose house is located near the accident site, said, “When the tip of the chariot came in contact with the livewire, all who touched the chariot suffered an electric shock and fell on the road. I saw three people on fire. We could do anything only after 10 minutes when the power supply went off. We rushed them to hospital.”
A teashop owner in the area said the height of the rode had gone up at least one foot after a recent relaying. That was reason the why the tip of the chariot touched the livewire, he said.
“The people who pulled the chariot didn’t consider the change in the height of the road,” he said.
“For several years we have been celebrating the festival. This kind of incident had never happened earlier. During the recent Kodiyamman temple festival that happened two weeks ago, a chariot procession was held on the same road. The chariot took a to u-turn at the very spot where the accident occurred now,” S Vijayan, a villager, stated.

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