A spiritual trip by a group of villagers for a temple festival took a tragic turn on Sunday when four of them, including a mother-daughter duo and a boy, drowned in a pool of water in an otherwise dry Cauvery River at Perugamani, a few kilometres from the city, along the Tiruchi – Karur National Highway.

While Public Works Department officials maintained that the pool was probably caused by a spring at the spot, there were speculations that the victims had drowned in a pit allegedly caused by unauthorised sand mining.

All the four victims – S. Uma Devi (36), her daughter S. Deepa (15), T. Praveena (18) and C. Jeevanandhan (11) — hailed from Savarimedu village in Nangavaram, in neighbouring Karur district.

They were part of a group from Savarimedu which came in different goods carriers to Perugamani in the morning hours, to take a holy dip in the Cauvery river and to carry water in holy pots to the Om Sakthi Mariamman temple in their village, in connection with the Chithirai temple festival.

Tragedy struck moments after the group landed at Perugamani, when the five entered the pool of water, unaware of its depth, an eyewitness and police sources said.

While four of them drowned, another villager, Santhi, aged around 30 years, however, had a providential escape after the group managed to rescue her from the water body upon alarm raised by a girl who noticed the incident.

Minister for Khadi and Village Industries T.P. Poonachi, Collector Jayashree Muralidharan, AIADMK MLAs M. Paranjothi, R. Manoharan and Indira Gandhi, besides Mayor Jaya were present at the Government Hospital, to ensure speedy completion of post-mortem formalities. The Collector ascertained from the villagers about the tragic incident.

The Pettavaithalai police has registered a case.