Over 100 dead in Indian temple stampede
Over 100 people are dead and a further 100 are injured after a crowd stampeded at a Hindu temple in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
Thousands of devotees had gathered at the Ratangarh temple near Datia for Durga Puja, a major Hindu festival in honour of the goddess Durga. Over 500,000 had gone to the remote village for the last day of celebrations.
At least 17 children and 31 women are among the dead, according to police sources.
The deadly stampede broke out after rumours that a bridge was collapsing. The Times of Indiadescribed the narrow bridge as “chock-a-block” with pilgrims, and claims that only 10 police officers were overseeing the 500m bridge.
The Hindu reported that a police baton charge caused more than 100 people to run towards a bridge across the Sindh river. Others leapt into the river in the panic.
The deputy inspector general of police in the Chambal region of the state said that police carrying batons charged the crowd in an effort to contain the panic. People retaliated by hurling stones at officers, and one officer was badly injured.
The Hindu newspaper said the state’s chief minister has expressed grief over the tragedy, and the government of Madhya Pradesh has announced compensation payments for the 100 and more wounded and the families of the 100 dead.
The state has also ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident.
Sonia Gandhi, the leader of India’s ruling Congress Party, expressed “shock and deep anguish over the tragic incident”.
The massive crowds drawn to religious festivals in India make stampedes a common occurrence.
Some 102 worshippers were killed in a stampede in January 2011 in the state of Kerala and 224 pilgrims died in 2008 at a temple in Jodhpur.