Bengaluru: At least 12 people, including a girl and a woman died while 82 others took ill on Friday after consuming 'prasad' at a temple at Sulavadi village in Chamarajnagar district, health department officials said.
A district official claimed that some toxic substance may have got mixed with the religious offering being served at the Kichu Maranda temple in Sulivadi village, resulting in the tragedy. "We have collected samples and sent them to a laboratory for analysis," he said.
The ailing have been hospitalised in hospitals across Chamarajnagar and Mysuru districts, and many of them are on ventilator support.
According to a witness, devotees decided to eat the rice-based offering although it was smelling of kerosene. "Soon afterwards, they complained of stomachache and began vomiting," he added.
Expressing grief over the incident, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy announced a relief of Rs 5 lakh to the next to the kin of the deceased.
Kumaraswamy flew to Chamarajnagar by a special plane from Belagavi.
He said he has directed the authorities to make all arrangements for those affected and that government would bear the medical expenses.
"In view of the shortage of ambulances in Chamarajanagar district, 32 ambulances have been rushed from Mysuru," the chief minister said.
Two people from the temple management have been detained for questioning, said police sources.
District Health Officer Prasad said it was suspected that poison might have got mixed with the prasad, resulting in the tragic incident.
"We have collected the food samples and sent it to a laboratory for investigation," he told reporters.
According to police, the foundation laying ceremony of Maramma temple was organised Friday morning and prasad was distributed after the function. Most of those who attended the event followed the 'Om Shakti' tradition.