Karunanidhi funeral: Three dead, 34 injured outside Chennai's Rajaji Hall as swelling crowd causes stampede

Three persons were killed and 34 suffered minor injuries on Wednesday in a stampede outside the Rajaji Hall in Chennai as thousands thronged for a final glimpse of DMK leader M Karunanidhi, a hospital official said.

A senior official of the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital told IANS: "Two persons were brought dead to the hospital with injuries arising due to trampling. One is a woman, Shanbagam, while the other person is an unidentified male." The woman, Shanbagam, was said to be 60 years old. Another person brought to the hospital named Saravan later succumbed to his injuries.

 Karunanidhi funeral: Three dead, 34 injured outside Chennais Rajaji Hall as swelling crowd causes stampede

Overwhelming crowd thronged Rajaji Hall to pay their last respects to M Karunanidhi. Image Courtesy: Abdul Kadar Mydeen/101Reporters

The official added that 34 persons were brought to the hospital with minor injuries and were treated. Some were dehydrated. "There has been heavy jostling and pushing and pulling in the crowd since morning," one man at the site said, explaining what led to the stampede.

The tragedy occurred shortly after Karunanidhi's son MK Stalin appealed for calm to the milling crowds which were getting restive at not being able to get close to the former Tamil Nadu chief minister's body. Even as the crowd began to swell by noon, barricades placed by police in the sprawling premises off arterial Anna Salai were strewn at several locations.

Efforts by police to regulate the crowd vent in vain as frenzied cadres argued with police personnel, demanding to be allowed to go forth and pay homage. The situation got out of hand after the crowd tried to reach the main venue from all sides, including from the adjacent government super-speciality hospital complex, and breached designated entry points.

The commotion heightened when several people tried to take the rear and side pathways by following prominent personalities. Earlier, thousands of people kept thronging the venue from the wee hours even as a bandh-like situation prevailed in the city and suburbs. The Tamil Nadu government announced a local holiday on Wednesday as a mark of respect to Karunanidhi.

All educational institutions, shops, business establishments, fuel outlets remained closed in the city. Cinema theatres cancelled shows for the day. Most roads wore a deserted look as State-owned transport corporation operated skeletal services and other public transport vehicles including autorickshaws stayed off roads. Train services, however, operated as usual. The Koyambedu vegetable market wore a deserted look as traders decided to shut shop.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Aug 08, 2018 19:46:27 IST



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