A wall has fallen onto an Indian wedding party during a storm, killing at least 24 people including four children and injuring many more, police said on Thursday. The concrete wall fell on guests who were sheltering from heavy rain in a tin shack on Wednesday night, police superintendent Anil Tank said.
“We worked through the night,” one rescue worker at the scene in Bharatpur, Rajasthan state, told India TV news network. “We tried to rescue as many people as possible, the scene was horrific,” the rescuer added. He said 26 people were injured, 15 of them seriously. TV footage showed anxious relatives standing next to hospital beds.
The wall was about four metres high and 27 metres long. Police launched an investigation, detaining a wedding hall manager on suspicion of causing death by negligence. District magistrate Narendra Kumar Gupta said: “We have registered a case and taken one of the managers of the banquet hall into custody.”
“We will investigate if the hall owners had a valid licence. In case they did not have a licence, appropriate action will be taken against them.” Gupta also announced compensation of 50,000 rupees ($775) for the family of each person killed. The Press Trust of India news agency said there were food stalls set up along the wall for the wedding. The state chief minister, Vasundhara Raje, said she was devastated by the tragedy and instructed the state authorities to extend whatever help possible to the victims’ families. Rajasthan is one of India’s most arid states, but suffers frequent dust and rain storms during the hotter months.
A heatwave has swept across much of India in recent weeks, with temperatures reaching 44 degrees in the capital, Delhi. Building collapses are common in India, especially during the annual monsoon season. A massive influx of people to cities in search of jobs and a shortage of low-cost housing has fuelled the construction of illegal buildings across the country, often with sub-standard material.