Amaravati (AP), Mar 31 (PTI) Four pilgrims were killed and over 50 others injured at the ancient Ram temple in Ontimitta in Kadapa district when the pandals collapsed as gales accompanied by heavy rain lashed the district, police said.
The incident occurred minutes ahead of the arrival of Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu last night for the celestial wedding of Lord Rama as part of Rama Navami celebrations, resulting in chaos at the temple, a senior police official said.
Sudden rain coupled with strong winds lashed Ontimitta at around 6.40 pm, some 20 minutes before the chief minister was scheduled to arrive to present silk clothes to the Lord.
The chaos was compounded due to power outage.
The main event was, however, not affected because of a huge rain-proof pandal and provision of generators.
The chief minister arrived over 90 minutes behind schedule because of rain and took part in the rituals.
However, the specially-erected pandals for the pilgrims were soaked with rain water while the tin sheet roofs of the pandals were blow away by the gale.
While two persons died when uprooted tin sheets fell on them, one woman died of heart attack and another of electrocution, a police official said over phone from Kadapa.
Initially, only one body was found late in the night but the others were traced after thousands of pilgrims left the venue.
About 40 of the injured were shifted to the Rajiv Institute of Medical Sciences in Kadapa for treatment.
After attending the celestial wedding, the chief minister visited RIMS at Kadapa and met those undergoing treatment.
He announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 15 lakh each to the kin of those killed and Rs three lakh each to those seriously injured.
A senior official said an inquiry is being conducted into the various lapses that led to the tragedy at the festival.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.