Seven persons, including five minor children and two women, were killed and nine others were injured when an old mound caved in here in this Vaishali district headquarters town, about 25 km north of the state capital, on Sunday.
Of the injured, six have been referred to the Patna Medical College and Hospital in a critical condition. According to sources, the injured fainted and sustained injuries in their heads and chests after the mound collapse.
The victims, all Dalits, had gone to collect soil from the old mound situated at Hela Bazaar near Kunharghat in Hajipur to make earthen hearths in their houses ahead of Deepawali and Chhath festivals.
Vaishali district magistrate Jitendra Srivastava accompanied by SP Suresh Prasad Choudhary reached the place of occurrence soon and had the bodies extricated by a JCB machine.
The deceased have been identified as Niri Devi, 28, Preeti Kumari, 18, Suman Kumar alias Sunny Kumar, 5, Rupa Kumari, 9, Samir Kumar, 7, Pawan Kumar, 12 and Aanchal Kumari, 6.
The DM said the bereaved families would be provided financial assistance of Rs 1.5 lakh each while the entire medical expenses of the injured borne by the district administration.
Recalling the horrible incident, some of the injured admitted to the Hajipur Sadar Hospital, said the victims, including the children, had entered deep inside a hole in the mound. The hole had been formed due to soil digging by people over a period of time.
“The hole was about 20 metres deep. As soon as the mound caved in, there was sudden darkness and we started feeling suffocated. The children died soon after bleeding from mouths. It’s only a miracle we are alive,” said Indal, one of the injured, even as he shook in fear.