At least eleven people died and more than a dozen were injured after a truck, decorated as a temple chariot, hit a power line and caught fire.

The chariot carried statues of Hindu deities in addition to the devotees and was on its way back to a nearby temple.
The chariot carried statues of Hindu deities in addition to the devotees and was on its way back to a nearby temple. (Reuters)

At least eleven people, including two children, have been electrocuted to death when their truck, decorated as a temple chariot, touched an overhead electric power transmission wire during a Hindu festival procession in southern India.

More than a dozen people were also injured during Wednesday’s incident in the district of Thanjavur in the southern state of Tamil Nadu after the vehicle, a 2.7-m-high structure pulled by worshippers, hit the high-voltage lines and caught fire, police said.

"I hope those injured recover soon," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter, as he offered condolences to the bereaved.

Some of the injured were hurt in falls following the electric shock, and others, who scrambled to escape the flames, when they jumped from the chariot, which carried statues of Hindu deities in addition to the devotees.

The chariot, which had been wending its way back to a nearby temple, was left a charred ruin.

Fire engines and local officials joined the rescue effort.

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Decades-old tradition

The victims were participating in a chariot procession organised in memory of Tamil Saivaite saint Thirunavukkarasar, a seventh-century Tamil poet-saint.

The procession was organised by a local prayer club formed and run by the villagers for more than nine decades.

The district of Thanjavur is an important centre of South Indian religion, art, and architecture.

The area is known for its heritage temples.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies