20 devotees from Andhra among stampede victims

Five pilgrims from Prakasam district were killed in the tragedy while three people from Krishna district also lost their lives. Two devotees each from Srikakulam, Medak and Nalgonda district were also crushed to death. Six victims belonged to six other districts.

The state government has opened a special helpline at the state secretariat here to provide information about the people from the state who were killed or injured in the tragedy.

The helpline numbers in Andhra Pradesh are 040-23452888 and 9010204277.
Endowments Minister J. Krishna Rao said the bodies were likely to be flown to Chennai or Hyderabad and that the state government would make all arrangements to send the bodies of the victims to their native places. He said he was in touch with the authorities in Kerala and was gathering all details.

Chief Minister Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy, Leader of Opposition Nara Chandrababu Naidu and others have expressed shock over the stampede and conveyed their heartfelt sympathies to the families of the victims.

The chief minister directed the officials to provide all necessary assistance to the families of the victims.

The festivities of 'Sankranti' turned into gloom for the families of the victims after the shocking news reached them. Chirala town in Prakasam district plunged into gloom. Wailing women and other relatives were seen at the houses of the victims.

A father and a son from Gajwel town in Medak district were also among the victims. Ramachandram, who hails from Tamil Nadu but was settled in Gajwel for the past three decades, had gone to Sabrimala for the 18th time while this was first pilgrimage for his son Arun.

Their relatives said the stampede Friday night occurred when the pilgrims were returning after watching the Makara Jyothi light from a hillock 30 km away from Sabarimala, the most important event of the pilgrimage.

Hundreds of people from the state go to Sabrimala every year for three-month-long pilgrim season at the mountain shrine.

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