An India stampede has killed 115 people. Close to 150,000 pilgrims were gathered in Madhya Pradesh to celebrate the Hindu festival of Navatri. As they made their way to the Ratangarh temple, the crowd began to panic. A majority of the injuries and deaths occurred on and around a concrete bridge.
Witnesses say the stampede was triggered when several railings broke off the bridge. Concerned that the bridge would collapse, people began running. Dozens of victims were killed as they were knocked over and trampled to death. Many others drowned when they jumped or were pushed into the Sindh river.
As reported by Reuters, authorities have declared that the rescue efforts have ceased. Officials raised the death toll to 115, stating that a majority of those killed were women and children. Dozens of pilgrims remain hospitalized, with injuries ranging from minor to severe.
Some witnesses blamed police for the India stampede. Officers reportedly used stick-like weapons to control the crowd, triggering the panic. Deputy inspector Dilip Arya denies the rumors.
Although there was tension between officers and the pilgrims, Arya said the cause is still under investigation.
Similar incidents are not uncommon during religious festivals. In 2006, 50 people were killed in a stampede at the same site.
Authorities replaced the original wooden bridge with a wider concrete structure. Unfortunately, it did not prevent Sunday’s deadly incident.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed his sympathy for the victims and their families, stating that he feels “deep sorrow and shock over the loss of lives.” Singh asked local authorities to provide the victims and their families with support in their healing.
The India stampede is still under investigation. Local officials will discuss provisions to prevent future tragedy.
[Image via Wikimedia]