Patna, India – A stampede at a Hindu Prayer Festival along the Ganges River killed nine children and eight adults on Tuesday. The tragic incident happened as hundreds of Hindu worshipers gathered late Monday night in the Bihar State. The large group had gathered to pray to the sun god during the Chhath Festival, according to statements made by the local police superintendent.
A power outage reportedly panicked the crowd who had gathered along a makeshift bamboo walkway being used as a bridge above the Ganges, The Blaze notes. The victims were trampled as people scrambled to reach the shore. Approximately 20 people were rushed to the hospital, according to World News Australia. Early reports indicate that approximately six of the patients were in critical condition.
An inquiry has reportedly been launched into the stampede which is blamed for the deaths of 18 women and children at the Hindu prayer festival. Many of worshipers returned to pray at the scene of the horrific tragedy after the deadly incident. Thousands of devotees appeared to adhere to the festival prayer schedule and amassed before sunrise lighting candles, bathing in the sacred waters, and offerings fruits to the gods.
Both survivors and relatives of the victims mourned together at a mass cremation site along the banks of the Ganges River. Some of the witnesses are claiming that poor organization of the annual Hindu prayer festival during Chhath is to blame for the stampede.
Sadly, deadly stampedes are not uncommon during the “often-chaotic” religious festivals in India. In September, a similar incident at a different festival in India took the lives of nine worshipers.