24 killed as wall collapses at Indian wedding

JAIPUR (India) • A wall crashed down on an Indian wedding party during a storm, killing at least 24 people including four children, police said yesterday, with one rescuer describing the scene as horrific.

Dozens more were injured when the 4m-high concrete wall collapsed, trapping guests who had taken shelter from violent rain in a tin shack on Wednesday night, said police superintendent Anil Tank.

"We worked through the night," one rescue worker at the scene in Bharatpur, Rajasthan state, told India TV news network. "We tried to rescue as many people as possible. The scene was horrific."

Supt Tank, a senior officer in Bharatpur, said 26 people were injured, and 15 of them were seriously hurt.

Police have launched an investigation and detained a wedding hall manager on charges of causing death by negligence.

District magistrate Narendra Kumar Gupta said: "We will investigate whether the hall owners had a valid licence. In case they did not have a licence, appropriate action will be taken against them."

The judge announced compensation of 50,000 rupees (S$1,090) for the family of each person killed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the incident had pained him "beyond words". He tweeted: "My thoughts are with the families of the deceased. I hope the injured recover soon."

Indian weddings are often grandiose affairs with huge numbers of guests and lavish ceremonies that run for several days.

Disasters more often result from celebratory firing into the air, particularly in rural north India, where gun ownership is widespread.

Last year, at least three people died in such incidents and, earlier this month, a 12-year-old boy died of gunshot injuries suffered at a wedding in northern Uttar Pradesh state.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2017, with the headline '24 killed as wall collapses at Indian wedding'. Print Edition | Subscribe