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11 dead, dozens hospitalised after consuming ‘prasad’; state government announces ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh

New Delhi: At least 11 people were killed and 72 others hospitalised on Friday after they consumed ‘prasad’ at a temple at Sulavadi village in Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka.

According to Karnataka Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), the death toll had increased to 11 from nine people.

Karnataka state government announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the next of the kin of the deceased. The medical treatment of those hospitalised will be taken care of by the state government.

The condition of eight people being treated at a hospital in Mysuru was critical, said health department officials. “One child died at the government hospital at Ramapura, two each at GH hospitals at Kamageri and Kolegal, three at the KP Hospital and one at KRH Hospital,” said Suresh Shastry, Joint Director, Directorate of Health and Family Welfare Services.

Kumaraswamy flew to Chamarajnagar by special plane from Belagavi. He said he has directed the authorities to make all arrangements for those affected and that government would bear the medical expenses.

“In view of the shortage of ambulances in Chamarajanagar district, 32 ambulances have been rushed from Mysuru,” the chief minister said.

Two people from the temple management have been detained for questioning, said police sources.

District Health Officer Prasad said it was suspected that poison might have got mixed with the prasad, resulting in the tragic incident. “We have collected the food samples and sent it to a laboratory for investigation,” he told reporters.

According to police, the foundation laying ceremony of Maramma temple was organised Friday morning and ‘prasad’ was distributed after the function. Most of those who attended the event followed the ‘Om Shakti’ tradition.

After consuming the prasad, people started vomiting and began writing with stomach pain, police said. Commotion prevailed as people hurried to nearby hospitals for treatment. Police, as also district authorities, rushed to the spot to provide medical aid. The affected people said they got the smell of kerosene oil in the prasad, but ignored it.