At least 18 cows died of suffocation over the past few days at a shelter home managed by a village panchayat in Balodabazar district of Chhattisgarh, a senior government official said on Sunday (5 August).

The carcasses of the cows were recovered from Rohasi village on 3 August, Janak Prasad Pathak, Balodabazar collector, told the media.

The local officials received information that the carcasses of cows are being transported for burial in the village, which is located around 70 km from the State capital Raipur.

"Preliminary investigation revealed that the cows were locked in a room for the past few days and they died of suffocation," Pathak said.

Some villagers were earlier worried about stray cattle damaging crops in their fields.

After discussing the issue, the locals captured the stray cattle, including cows and buffaloes, and locked some of the animals in a cow shelter in the village and tied the other cattle in an open area in the premises.

When no person came to claim ownership of the animals, the villagers, who were finding it difficult to provide water and food, released the cattle tied in the open area of the shelter home. However, they did not notice the cattle locked inside the room.

When they noticed foul smell emanating from the place on 3 August, they checked the room and found the animals dead inside it, Pathak said.

He also stated that the cattle remained locked for four days in a room which was not spacious enough to accommodate 18 animals and resulted in their deaths due to suffocation.