Two persons were killed on the spot and 11 others were injured when a more than 100-year-old banyan tree came crashing down on shops in front of Sri Anjaneyar Temple at Anaipatti village in Nilakottai block in the heavy rain on Friday.
The deceased were K. Mookkammal (85) of Anaipatti and R. Thadhan (35) of E. Kamatchipuram. Around 20 petty shops in that area on the riverbank were damaged.
The local people said the tree was broken into four major pieces, and they fell on the shops and an electric post, snapping power supply to the temple and also the nearby areas. Several people managed to escape as the pieces of the banyan tree fell down very slowly.
Police said the electric post fell on Mookkammal and an iron rod pierced the chest of Thadhan when they were sitting near the temple.
Fire and Rescue Services personnel, led by Nilakottai Station Fire Officer P. Sivakumar, struggled for more than one and a half hours to rescue the shopkeepers from under the damaged shops and the tree branches. Mr.Sivakumar said the rescue team reached the spot in 15 minutes.
The injured were rushed to the Nilakottai Government Hospital in an ambulance and fire service vans.
The police and the local people also helped them in the rescue operation. The temple was closed and all the pujas and aradhanas were cancelled after the incident.