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13 Indian girls fall & die in well

In India, 13 women have been killed after accidentally falling down a well during marriage celebrations in UttarPradesh state.

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Thirteen women and girls died after accidentally falling down a well during marriage celebrations in northern India, police said Thursday.

The victims were sitting on an iron slab covering the well on Wednesday when it gave way, senior police officer Akhil Kumar told reporters in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh state.

District magistrate S. Rajalingam said the well was old and could not take the weight of those sitting on the covering.

“The victims fell down and were crushed under the debris,” he said.

The women and children had gathered to take part in a marriage ritual in their village.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the accident was “heart-wrenching”.

“The local administration is involved in all possible help,” he tweeted.

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Indian weddings are often grand affairs with huge numbers of guests and lavish ceremonies that run for several days.

In 2017, 24 wedding revellers were killed in the northwestern state of Rajasthan when a wall crashed down on them during a storm.

Why is India’s largest insurer being listed?

India is embarking on the blockbuster listing of the country’s largest insurer as part of a wider privatisation drive to bolster public coffers drained by the coronavirus pandemic and fund new infrastructure.

While the pricing has not yet been set, analysts expect the IPO of the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) to be India’s largest to date, potentially earning the government more than $10 billion.

After the listing, which is expected in March, LIC will be one of India’s biggest publicly listed companies alongside giants such as Reliance and TCS.

How big is the firm?

LIC was created in 1956 and was synonymous with life insurance in post-independence India until private firms were allowed entry in 2000.

The company holds a two-thirds share in the domestic life insurance market. It manages assets of 36.7 trillion rupees ($491 billion), which equates to nearly 16 percent of India’s gross domestic product.

It has more than 100,000 employees and one million insurance agents.

LIC’s real estate assets include big offices at prime locations in various Indian cities, including a 15-storey building in the southern city of Chennai and a distinctively curved head office in the heart of Mumbai’s financial district.

The firm is also believed to own a large collection of rare and valuable artwork that includes paintings by MF Hussain — known as the Pablo Picasso of India — although the value of these holdings has not been made public.