An accident in the early hours of Saturday during Thrissur Pooram celebrations killed two persons and injured over 25 people, including police personnel and percussion artistes.
A huge branch of a banyan tree near the Brahmaswom Madhom fell over people who had gathered for the night edition of the Madathil Varavu Panchavadyam of the Thiruvambadi Devaswom. The condition of two persons is said to be critical.
The dead were identified as festival committee member of the Thiruvambadi Devaswom Rameshan Mannuthy, 56, and pooram exhibition committee member Paniyath Radhakrishnan, 65, of Punkunnam. They suffered head injuries.
Among the injured were percussion artistes Kariyannur Narayanan Namboodiri, Kottakkal Ravi, and Varadarajan. The accident happened while the panchavadyam , led by Mela Pramani Kongad Madhu, was reaching its crescendo.
Nobody heard the sound of the branch breaking. “It happened in a flash before we could think. Before people could escape, the branch fell over them,” said onlookers.
Many, trapped under the tree, were not able to move. As the branch fell over a power line, supply was disrupted, delaying the rescue operations.
The Fire and Rescue Services men were joined by locals in efforts to rescue those trapped under the branch. The injured were admitted to the General Hospital and the Government Medical College Hospital, Thrissur.
Though the elephant that carried the idol of Thiruvambadi Bhagavathy ran amok in the melee, it was brought under control soon.
Following the accident, the Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi Devaswoms called off the pooram fireworks. But by that time, the fireworks had already been loaded and arranged at Thekkinkadu Maidan.
As the removal of the loaded fireworks was risky, the explosives were destroyed by exploding them.
The Collector ordered an inquiry into the circumstances that led to the accident.
There was no wind or rain at the time.