Thiruvananthapuram: One child was killed and nearly 60 people injured, many of them seriously, when three elephants lined up for the aarattu (the holy bath of the presiding deity), ran amok at Koodalmanikkom temple near Thrissur. The aarattu is a ritual which marks the end of the 10-day annual festival at the temple,
The incident comes close on the heels of the Thrissur pooram (festival) incident a week ago, in which more than 50 people were injured when one of 30 elephants in the parade turned violent.
Police said that two-year-old Yadu Krishnan of Koodalmanikkom was killed in the ensuing stampede. His mother Jisha suffered serious injuries in her attempt to save her son from people who ran to escape the marauding elephants.
While a mahout and a few others were injured in the attack by the elephants, most were hurt in the stampede.
All were admitted to the Thrissur government medical college hospital and private hospitals in the area. Doctors said that the condition of a few of them was serious.
Police said that the three elephants were brought out from the temple and lined up in front of the main entrance of the temple for the aarattu ritual in the morning. A group of policemen gave guard of honour to the elephant carrying the idol of the presiding deity and other two accompanying elephants, which is a custom at this temple.
When the policemen fired in the air as part of the guard of honour, one among the three elephants became scared and turned violent. It began to trumpet and attack the people with its trunk. Having seen this, two other elephants also charged towards the crowd and all three began to run in different directions in front of the temple. After struggling for nearly half an hour, mahouts brought them under control and tethered them.
A couple of years ago, an elephant ran amok at the Koodalmanikkom temple killing three people while being paraded in the festival.
Elephant experts point the accusing finger at the government for the frequent elephant-related problems during this temple festival season. Forest Minister K.B. Ganeshkumar, who owns a few elephants, and president of Private Elephant Owners' Association, has revoked the earlier order that forest vets consent is a must for taking tamed elephants from one district to another.
The government has ordered a probe into the incident.