The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Water tank tragedy at fair

Aug. 27: At least 48 spectators at a wrestling match were killed when a water tank they were sitting on collapsed at a fair in Rajasthan.

About 200 people had climbed atop the tank to watch the wrestling competition when the structure gave way in Bharatpur district, collector R. Venkateshwaran said.

Known for its bird sanctuary, Bharatpur is around 225 km east of Jaipur.

At least 30 other people, standing under and near the concrete tank, were injured as it came crashing down, the collector said.

The tank was “very old and could have collapsed because it had not been renovated”, Venkateshwaran told The Telegraph over phone. “The tank on which they were sitting collapsed due to the weight,” he added. “All of them fell into the tank which had very little water. They died as the concrete fell on them.”

Rajasthan home secretary V.S. Singh said the number of dead stood at 48 and wounded at 27 till late tonight. The injured have been taken to hospitals in Bharatpur town.

The wrestling match was being held as part of the Bhojan Thali Mela in Kama town when the tank collapsed.

Usually, thousands of people from surrounding districts attend such events, where mud wrestling, cockfights and theatre performances are the main attractions.

Thousands were attending the fair today, too. First, a portion of the tank caved in and then the entire structure collapsed, officials said. Senior district and police officials have reached the site.

The state government has ordered a probe. Transport secretary Parmesh Chandra will investigate.

Freak calamities have played havoc with the state of late. The drought-prone western Rajasthan is now at the receiving end of devastating floods.

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