Two die in stampede at funeral of veteran Tamil Nadu leader Muthuvel Karunanidhi

Mourners gather outside the Rajaji hall during the funeral of the veteran Tamil Nadu leader Muthuvel Karunanidhi in Chennai, India, on Aug 8, 2018.
Mourners gather outside the Rajaji hall during the funeral of the veteran Tamil Nadu leader Muthuvel Karunanidhi in Chennai, India, on Aug 8, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - A stampede on Wednesday (Aug 8) among thousands of mourners at the funeral of a powerful southern Indian politician killed two people and injured 47, a doctor at a government hospital said.

Mr Muthuvel Karunanidhi, a dominant figure in the politics of southern India for half a century who had been chief minister of Tamil Nadu state five times, died on Tuesday (Aug 7), aged 94.

Images of thousands gathered in the state capital, Chennai, to pay their last respects to the leader were broadcast on television. The funeral was attended by senior politicians, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The stampede happened when a sudden rush among mourners arriving at the site caused many to lose their balance and fall, the Times of India newspaper said.

"A man and a woman were brought dead to the hospital," Dr A. Elango, an official of the Rajiv Gandhi general hospital, told Reuters, adding that 47 people had been admitted for minor injuries.

Mr Karunanidhi, who always appeared in public with dark glasses and a yellow shawl draped over his shoulder, built his political machine as a crusader for social justice.

He was known for drawing foreign investors to India's second-largest state economy and overseeing its emergence as an industrial powerhouse, and had been credited with opening many industrial and technology parks.