A 15-year-old girl was crushed to death and 23 others were injured after an underground water tank collapsed in Barmer district, police said on Saturday.
The victims had gone to fetch water from the tank in Solankiyon ki Dhani under Tanumanji gram panchayat, 100 km from the district headquarters, on Friday evening when the incident happened. They were standing on the cover of the tank to collect water when the lid caved in, they said.
Village sarpanch Mansingh Dudhoda has blamed the water works department for the tragic incident.
“The department had not supplied drinking water to the village for a month and had resumed it all of a sudden on Friday. When villagers, especially women, got to know about the water supply, they rushed to the tank to collect water, which triggered a stampede-like situation,” the sarpanch said.
“Apprehensive that the (water) supply might be stopped before they got a chance to collect water, the villagers climbed on the tank which buckled under pressure and all fell into the tank which was almost dry,” Dudhoda said.
The people were rescued and rushed to the district hospital where Nazira Bano, daughter of Salar Khan, was declared dead on arrival, he said. Four other severely injured have been referred to Jodhpur where their condition was stated to be stable.
According to Dudhoda the tank was around a decade-old and in a worn out condition. He said further loss could be averted due to the rescue efforts of the villagers.
“They stood there and extricated the victims one-by-one. Otherwise there could be huge loss,” Dudhoda added.