The deceased were identified as Narayani (55) from Adyar, her husband Muthu, a sub-inspector with the Thirumangalam police station, Gangalakshmi (47) from Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, N Natraj (61) from Triplicane and Anandavel (50) from Selam.
While Narayani, Gangalakshmi and Natraj became unconscious in the afternoon and were rushed to Kancheepuram government hospital where they died without responding to treatment, Anandavel, who was critical, was referred to Chengalpet government hospital and died there in the evening.
Sources said that one more person is admitted to hospital and is stated to be critical.
The temple, about 70 km from Chennai, has been witnessing heavy rush of devotees ever since the darshan of the deity’s idol made of fig wood, called “athi’ in Tamil began, on July 1 after it was taken out from the temple tank on June 27. Police said the footfall on Thursday was nearly 1.7 lakh. Vishnu Kanchi police have registered a case.
Kancheepuram collector P Ponnaiah, while interacting with the media, confirmed that in the past 18 days, at least a hundred people have fallen unconscious. The collector said that there are 14 emergency medical centres in the premises to deal with medical emergencies.
Later in the day, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami informed the Assembly that all four devotees died due to “pre-existing” health conditions. He announced that the government will distribute Rs 1 lakh to the families of the five deceased including Sakthi Ajithkumar (22), from Rajamundry, who died while descending the steps and slipping down after worshipping the diety on July 3.