At least two people died during Rath Yatra festivities in Odisha’s Jajpur district Thursday as a chariot caught fire upon snagging an overhead electrical power cable, while a child from Khordha district also reportedly lost his life after coming under the wheels of the local chariot.
“Two devotees, Suchitra Roy and Bharat Ray, have died from electrocution. Seven people were thrown around by the electrical shock and some have burn injuries”, said a source in the district police. He also added that the police will investigate why the power supply in the area was not cut, as per earlier practice during the chariot festival.
Three among the seven are said to be critically injured. The dome of the rath, covered in an ornate fabric, also caught fire. The injured have been shifted to a local hospital for treatment.
While Puri district hosts the principal Rath Yatra ceremony, many places in Odisha organise their own chariot pulling events in respective localities.
In Kaliapani area of Jajpur district’s Tata Mines Colony, devotees pulling a chariot narrowly avoided a major carnage after the iron dome frame of the Rath came in contact with an 11 KV power cable. Dozens of people were pulling the chariot when the accident occurred.
In a separate accident, an eight-year-old boy reportedly came under the wheels of a chariot being pulled in Khordha district’s Banapur area. He reportedly died before he could be shifted to AIIMS, Bhubaneswar.
Puri, which was ravaged by Cyclone Fani in May, has not seen complete restoration of power till now and many continue to be homeless. However, lakhs of devotees on Thursday thronged Puri town for the chariot festival.
Odisha Chief Naveen Patnaik, who attended the festivities in Puri, tweeted: “Mesmerized by the spiritual ambience at #Badadanda filled with the sound of cymbals and chants of #JaiJagannath as the Lord embarks on His earthly journey. Prayed the Lord to spread goodness around all.”