July 15th, 2024

A stampede at a religious event in India has killed at least 60 people


By Biswajeet Banerjee, The Associated Press on July 2, 2024.

Women mourn next to the body of a relative outside the Sikandrarao hospital in Hathras district about 350 kilometers (217 miles) southwest of Lucknow, India, Tuesday, July 2, 2024. At least 60 people are dead and scores are injured after a stampede at a religious gathering of thousands of people in northern India, officials said Tuesday.(AP Photo/Manoj Aligadi)

LUCKNOW, India (AP) – A stampede among thousands of people at a religious gathering in northern India killed at least 60 and left scores injured, officials said Tuesday, adding the toll could rise.

Attendees had rushed to leave the makeshift tent following an event with Hindu figure Bhole Baba, local media reported. Video of the aftermath showed the structure appeared to have collapsed. Women wailed over the dead.

Deadly stampedes are relatively common around Indian religious festivals, where large crowds gather in small areas with shoddy infrastructure and few safety measures.

Police officer Rajesh Singh said overcrowding may have been a factor in the stampede in a village in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh state, about 350 kilometers (220 miles) southwest of the state capital, Lucknow.

Initial reports suggested that over 15,000 people had gathered for the event, which had permission to host about 5,000.

“People started falling one upon another, one upon another. Those who were crushed died. People there pulled them out,” witness Shakuntala Devi told the Press Trust of India news agency.

Bodies were brought to hospitals and morgues by trucks and private vehicles, government official Matadin Saroj said. Government official Ashish Kumar told The Associated Press that at least 60 had reached mortuaries in the district.

More than 150 people were admitted to hospitals, medical official Umesh Tripathi said.

Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, called the stampede “extremely sad and heart-wrenching” in a post on social media platform X. He said authorities were investigating the cause.

In 2013, pilgrims visiting a temple for a popular Hindu festival in central Madhya Pradesh state trampled each other amid fears that a bridge would collapse. At least 115 were crushed to death or died in the river.

In 2011, more than 100 Hindu devotees died in a crush at a religious festival in the southern state of Kerala.

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