At least 16 pilgrims were killed and over 30 were missing after a flash flood in the Sindh river in Madhya Pradesh's Datia district, an official said on Monday.
More than 45 people were washed away on Sunday evening while crossing the river on foot to offer prayers on the occasion of Durga Navmi at Ratangarh Mata Mandir. They were swept away by the flash flood in the Sindh, caused due to the release of water from the nearby Manikheda dam. The authorities had given no prior information on the water release.
Police rescue teams have so far fished out 16 bodies and are searching for the missing.
Gwalior Divisional Commissioner Komal Singh has, however, denied that the people were swept away due to rise in water level.
"The question of Sindh water level rising does not arise because power production at the dam site was stopped since Saturday night," Singh said.
Accusing the district administration of callousness, the main opposition Congress demanded strict action against the district collector and the police superintendent.
"Neither did the administration take any precautionary measures nor did it make any arrangements for adequate boats despite knowing that villagers cross the river every year during Navratri for offering prayers," said Congress spokesman Manak Agrawal.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has directed the Datia district collector to enquire into the incident and provide necessary assistance to the affected families.
This is not the first incident of its kind in the state. In April 2005, more than 70 people were killed at Dharaji in Dewas district where they had gone for a dip in the Narmada river on the occasion of Bhutadi Amawasya.