18 drown during Ganesh immersion in Maharashtra

Mumbai: As elaborate Ganesh immersion ceremonies ended after nearly 30 hours on Monday afternoon, as many as 18 lives were lost, mostly due to drowning, across Maharashtra, officials said.

Sunday was ‘Anant Chaturdashi’ – or the final day of the 11-day festival which started on ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ on September 13 and which witnessed the maximum number of gigantic idols worshipped at ‘sarvajanik mandals’.

Thousands of idols were taken out in processions with devotees dancing and raising cries of ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya, Pudchya Varshi Lavkar Ya’. The idols were lowered into the Arabian Sea, creeks, rivers, lakes, ponds, wells, artificial tanks and other water bodies.

In the past 24 hours, one person drowned in Bhandup, eastern Mumbai, while four deaths were reported from Pune, three each in Ratnagiri and Jalna, two each in Bhandara and Satara and one each in Nanded, Buldhana and Ahmednagar.

In a freak incident, at least five persons including three girls were rescued when they fell in the sea water at Girgaum Chowpatty on Monday morning when their overloaded boat overturned during the immersion ceremony.

Teams of fire brigade and BMC swimmers immediately rescued them from the water and rushed them to Nair Hospital where they are reported out of danger.

Another 17 persons were injured when a large idol of the elephant-headed god tripped and fell on them during immersion ceremonies in Kandivali suburb, in northwest Mumbai. Their condition was described as stable.

A BMC official said 843 gigantic idols and nearly 33,700 household idols, ranging from a few inches to several feet, were immersed on Monday.

During the past few phases of immersion in the festive season, another 241,000 big, medium and small idols were immersed, besides an estimated 800,000 in the rest of Maharashtra, drawing the curtains on the state’s biggest public festival.

The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corp had made special arrangements for viewing the colourful immersion by Indian and foreign tourists from he US, Europe, neighbouring countries and other parts of the world, at Girgaum Chowpatty, said a spokesperson.

This year, Mumbai and other major cities witnessed virtually noise-free immersion processions and ceremonies after the Bombay High Court banned DJ and loudspeaker music.