Staff Reporter

Leaders from Andhra visit victims at hospital

Most of the victims died of suffocation as lorry overturned

Rs. one lakh to be given as aid to kin of the dead

KOTTAYAM: The embalmed bodies of 11 Sabarimala pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh, who had lost their lives in the gruesome accident at Attivalavu near Kanamala on the Erumeli-Pambavalley road on Tuesday night, were taken home by their relatives on Wednesday evening. All the injured persons have also been discharged from the Kottayam Government Medical College Hospital.

This includes one seriously injured person who was taken to Vijayawada in a special ambulance.

A large number of people including Devaswom Minister Kadannappally Ramachandran, Health Minister P. K. Sreemathy, Labour Minister P. K. Gurudasan, Forest Minister Benoy Viswom, Transport Minister Jose Thettayil, , Jose K. Mani MP, MLAs K. M. Mani, Thomas Chazhikkadan, P. C. George, Alphons Kannamthanam and V. N. Vasavan, Devaswom chief commissioner K. Jayakumar, District Collector Mini Antony and others visited the hospital to pay homage to the victims.

Leaders from Andhra Pradesh, Kolusu Parthasarathy, Minister for Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Government of Andhra Pradesh, Malladi Vishnu, MLA and former member of the AP legislative assembly Naini Udayabhanu also visited the victims and paid homage to the deceased.

Preliminary report

Meanwhile, the District Collector has submitted the preliminary report regarding the accident, to the Principal Secretary, Revenue. According to the report, the lorry had hit a mud wall on the side of the road before it overturned, causing the accident.

According to Ms. Antony, the leaders from Andhra Pradesh and the colleagues of the ill-fated pilgrims had expressed

satisfaction at the way the administration and the local people had extended support in the rescue operation.

They have also assured that the issue of people making use of lorries for long distance travels would be looked into.

This is not the first time that the team from Andhra Pradesh had used this method for Sabarimala pilgrimage. According to an eye witness, the death toll would not have increased to the current level had they used regular buses for their travel.

Many of the victims died due to suffocation. The pilgrims had used gunny bags filled with sand to add weight to the vehicle. A tarpaulin was spread over the gunny bags as a cover.

When the lorry overturned, those who got under the tarpaulin could not escape as the sand filed gunny bags fell on them. Barring a few, the injuries received were minor, doctors said.

The Devaswom Minister has declared a financial assistance of Rs. one lakh each to the nearest relative of the deceased.