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    Default Sabarimala stampede: toll rises to 104

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    The toll in the stampede near Kerala's famed Sabarimala temple climbed to 104 on Saturday as
    more bodies and the injured continued to be brought to hospitals in the area. The stampede occurred around 8.00pm on Friday when the pilgrims were returning after watching the celestial Makara Jyothi light,

    The tragedy took place in Pulumedu, a forested area about 10 km from the Vandiperiyar town, and about 30 km from the Sabarimala temple in Pathanamthitta district. At least 60 people have sustained injuries.

    Most of the bodies and the injured have been brought to the Kumily government hospital.

    State finance minister Thomas Isaac reached the hospital in the morning and said that the state government will meet the expenses for treating the injured even if they have been admitted to private hospitals in Idukki and Kottayam districts.

    "A thorough investigation will be done and the state government will meet all the expenses for transporting the bodies to their homes. As the first step, a sum of Rs 5,000 to the injured has been sanctioned," said Isaac.

    ssac said that a crime branch probe would be conducted to know the exact case of the tragedy.

    The government would bear the expenses of those injured in the tragedy.

    Issac, who is camping at at Vandiperiyar said bodies of those killed in the tragedy would be taken to their respective states by the state government after post mortem.

    Issac added he did not rule out the possibility of the death toll increasing later in the day.

    The expenses of those injured who were admitted to various private hospitals also would be met by the government. The government would officially communicate this matter to all the private hospitals in the area, Issac said.

    The bodies were first brought to the Vandiperiyar government hospital and from there it was moved to the hospital in Kumily.

    "Around 43 bodies have been identified so far and a majority of the dead are from nearby states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka," said senior Congress leader E M Augusthy.

    State DGP Jacob Punnoose confirmed the death toll as 102.

    "We have recovered all bodies by rescue work conducted overnight despite heavy mist and the remoteness of the hilly terrain," he said.

    The tragedy occurred when a jeep carrying pilgrims ran into a crowd and fell to the ground, killing some of the people on the spot and paving the way for the stampede, rescuers said.

    Relatives of pilgrims from Tamil Nadu, who have not returned home, have arrived here to look for them, he said, adding that photographs and particulars of the dead will be made available to the relatives to help them locate their dear ones.

    Speaking about the injured, Punnoose said the number of injured is quite few because they were evacuated first and were admitted to a hospital in Tamil Nadu.

    Some others have also received minor injuries.

    Meanwhile, Kerala chief minister V S Achuthanandan, who is at Kannur to attend official functions, has cancelled his programmes and was on his way to the accident site, official sources said.
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