Rath Yatra: At least three killed

Bhubaneswar: At least three persons, including two boys, were killed in separate incidents during the celebration of annual Ratha Yatra of Lord Jagannath in Orissa on Sunday.

During the world famous car festival at the pilgrim town Puri, a devotee died of heart attack, police said.

"A man identified as Sudhakar Swain, an elderly person from Jagatsinghpur district, died of heart attack," Director General of Police Manmohan Praharaj said.

However, some people claimed that the death was due to a stampede-like situation. But doctors and the police ruled out that possibility.

It was also alleged that several devotees including women had fainted in the crowd on the sprawling Grand Road as they jostled to have a glimpse of the presiding deities of the 12th century shrine – Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and their sister Devi Subhadra – while rituals were in progress ahead of pulling of their chariots down the two km distance.

Many devotees were also seen being carried in stretchers and ambulances to make-shift camps and the hospital by scores of volunteers deployed on the occasion.

In another incident in Cuttack district, a 12-year-old boy died after he came under the wheels of the wooden chariot at Sunthipal under Tigiria police station.

Superintendent of police, Cuttack (Rural), Rajani Kanta Mishra said the victim identified as Trinath Rout of the village came under the wheels while the Lord`s chariot was being pulled down the road by frenzied devotees.

In yet another such incident, a 15-year-old boy was run over by the chariot Lord Jagannath at Talakurunia under Bahanaga block in Balasore district.

Sub-divisional police officer of Balasore Sadar, Kailash Parida, said the boy identified as Debabrata Mahanta slipped down the chariot and was seriously injured.

He was immediately rushed to the nearby hospital at Gopalpur where he succumbed to his injuries.

Eyewitnesses at Talakurunia said the chariot was over-crowded. While it was being pulled down the road it started swaying in a bumpy place became imbalance causing fall of at least four persons including the boy from the chariot.

The boy came under the wheels.