Eleven pilgrims from Vijayawada district in Andhra Pradesh died when the lorry they were travelling in on a pilgrimage to Sabarimala hill shrine toppled. There were around 45 pilgrims in the national permit lorry.
Onlookers said the lorry was in high speed and this resulted in the toppling in the dense forest areas where there are several hairpin bends.
Eight bodies are kept in Erumely government hospital while the other three bodies are in Kanhirapally taluk hospital. Several others are serious and are admitted to various hospitals in and around Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts.
Sources told rediff.com over telephone that the pilgrims were sitting on the platform of the lorry, which was filled with sand. Most of the pilgrims had died owing to suffocation as the sand in the platform of the lorry had fallen over the pilgrims once the lorry toppled.
State Minister for Dewaswom (temples) Kadanapally Ramachandran. while speaking to rediff.com, over telephone said that the authorities had installed boards in all approach roads to Sabarimala temple in all languages, warning the drivers of sharp curves and hair pin bends .
The minister said he was on the way to the tragedy spot and would give more information once he reaches there.
State Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, Leader of the Opposition Oomen Chandy and BJP state president V.Muraleedharan expressed shock over the tragedy and called upon the police and the fire force personnel to embark on the rescue mission with immediate effect.
Sabarimala hill shrine has been experiencing heavy rush for the past few days as the Makara Sankranti is on Januaray 14. Pilgrims from all over the country are camping in the temple premises and the near by areas for a glimpse of the Makara Jyothi, which appears in the sky in the evening of January 14.