A surprise thunderstorm has knocked over a concrete wall onto scores of wedding guests in west India, killing at least 26 people. Police are investigating a manager of the venue for possible negligence.
Hundreds of guests were gathered outdoors at the venue in the state of Rajashtan, when the storm prompted them to seek shelter, Indian authorities said on Thursday. A large group of them hid in a tin shack near a four-meter (13-feet) high protective wall. The barrier, however, collapsed due to strong wind and rain, taking the shack down with it.
At least 26 people were killed and dozens more injured in the incident late on Wednesday, according to the police. Several children were also among the victims.
"We worked through the night," one rescue worker told India TV news network from the scene. Rescuers also needed to contend with a power outage.
"We tried to rescue as many people as possible, the scene was horrific," he added.
Manager in custody
The Rajashtan hall is a specialized venue used for large celebrations, according to reports. The police launched a probe against one of the managers for possibly causing death by negligence.
"We have registered a case and taken one of the managers of the banquet hall into custody," district magistrate Narendra Kumar Gupta told reporters.
"We will investigate if the hall owners had a valid licence. In case they did not have a licence, appropriate action will be taken against them."
The authorities will also provide a compensation of $775 (712 euro) to the victims' families, he said.
dj/rc (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters)