12 Sabarimala pilgrims killed in Kerala bus accident (Lead)

February 17th, 2009 - 2:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Erumely (Kerala), Feb 17 (IANS) At least 12 pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh, who were going to the Hindu shrine of Sabarimala in Kerala, were killed and 21 were injured when their bus fell into a gorge near Erumely town in Kerala’s Kottayam district early Tuesday, officials said.

The bus from Andhra Pradesh, AP 16 TV 0612, was carrying about 60 pilgrims to the shrine of Hindu god Ayyappa in Pathanamthitta district in central Kerala when it met with the accident, Kerala Transport Minister Mathew T. Thomas told reporters.

The bus fell into a nearly 50 feet deep gorge near Erumely, about 150 km from state capital Thiruvananthapuram, at about 5 a.m.

Thomas said all the pilgrims hailed from West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.

As soon as the accident occurred, hundreds of local residents arrived at the scene and started pulling out those trapped in the vehicle.

The dead - 10 women and two men - and the injured were taken to a government hospital in nearby Kanjirapally town in a truck.

“The bodies of the dead are now at the Kanjirapally hospital, while those injured were given first aid treatment and later rushed to the Kottayam Medical College hospital,” said legislator N. Jayaraj.

“We have asked for a detailed inquiry into the incident,” said Thomas.

State Devasom Minister G. Sudhakaran has announced payment of Rs.100,000 to the families of each of the dead.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has also expressed deep sorrow over the tragedy and assured all help to the victims.

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