Vandiperiyar: At least 102 Sabarimala pilgrims were killed and 50 others injured in the stampede that occurred Friday night at Pullumedu in Kerala`s Idukki district.
Over 70 bodies had been brought to government hospital at Kumali as police and fire force worked over night with local rescuers at the hilly terrain where the tragedy struck.
According to top police sources overseeing the rescue work, 102 persons confirmed dead and seven of nearly 50 injured are in a serious condition.
Most of the victims hailed from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
The tragedy, which struck the home-bound pilgrims returning after darshan at the hill-shrine of Lord Ayyappa on the Maker Samkrama Pooja last evening, when a jeep carrying devotees ran into a resting camp at Pulmedu near Vandiperiyar on Kerala-Tamil Nadu borders.
Aneesh, one of the early rescuers to reach the spot, said
the mishap was caused by the jeep which ran into the crowd
and turned turtle.
While some people who got trapped under the jeep died it
also paved the way for the stampede as thousands of pilgrims
had converged at Pulmedu area, used mostly by devotees from
Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh for returning home after
darshan, he said.
"I have never seen such a huge crowd at Pulmedu in my
life. The flow of pilgrims returning was much more than
anybody`s expectations," Aneesh, who hails from the area,
Kerala Deveswom Minister Kadannapally Ramachandran also
said the rush of pilgrims had been much higher than expected.
"Though arrangements for controlling the crowd were on
usual scale, the flow of people had been much more that all
expectations," the minister said from Vandiperiyar.
The two-month long pilgrimage which began in mid-November
had passed off by and large incident-free till last night.
Over 30 million devotees had visited the shrine during the