70 rescued from Rajasthan temple after staircase collapse

August 11th, 2008 - 3:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Kota (Rajasthan), Aug 11 (IANS) Rescue teams evacuated by Monday morning 70 of the 133 people stranded at the Geparnath temple in the Chambal river valley after the staircase leading to the shrine of hindu god Shiva collapsed Sunday, killing two people. Police said the incident occurred at around 3.30 p.m. Sunday, when part of the stone staircase leading to the 16th century temple, about 25 km from here, collapsed due to heavy rain. Pilgrims have to climb down 300 stairs to reach the shrine.

“We were not able to start rescue operations on Sunday evening due to darkness but we provided all the necessary things to the persons stranded there. We gave them food, milk, lights,” the official said.

“Seventy people and two dead bodies had been evacuated from the temple by 11 a.m. Monday. Efforts to rescue the other 63 are going on. We have kept helicopters ready for any emergency,” a police official told IANS.

The temple attracts many pilgrims and the area surrounding it is also a popular tourist spot. On the day of the tragedy, 135 people, including 35 women and 20 children, were present there.

The army was requisitioned to assist the district administration in rescue operations. The stranded people were being evacuated with the help of a crane.

“Thank god I have been saved. I was so terrified. At times I felt I would never be able to come out of this,” a 40-year-old woman said after being rescued.

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