India : Stampede in Uttar Pradesh leaves 24 dead
New Delhi, India (Xinhua + DIPLOMAT.SO) – At least 24 people were killed and dozens injured Saturday during stampede at a religious gathering in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, officials said.
The stampede took place at Maliviya bridge, locally called Rajghat bridge, over river Ganga in Varanasi district, about 319 km, southeast of Lucknow city, the capital of Uttar Pradesh.
“The stampede so far has claimed 24 lives,” an official posted at Varanasi district said. “Many others injured in the incident are undergoing treatment at different hospitals.”
Locals told Xinhua hundreds of devotees of Indian Hindu guru – Jai Gurudev had gathered in Varanasi to pay tributes to their religious leader.
The stampede triggered when crowd of devotees were crossing a bridge.
“The organizers were expecting some 5,000 people but estimates say a crowd of more than 70,000 people turned up,”Gopal Mishra, a local said. “During the gathering some women fainted due to heat and were trampled by others in the crowd that triggered panic.”
Uttar Pradesh Police Chief Javeed Ahmed told a local TV news channel NDTV that rumours of bridge collapsed fuelled more chaos.
Authorities have rushed senior officials from police and civil administration to Varanasi to oversee rescue operations and treatment of injured in the different hospitals.
Local media reports said more than 50 people injured in the stampede were taken to different hospitals.
Police have ordered an inquiry into the incident.
“We are investigating crowd management and will take action against those responsible,” Ahmed was quoted by NDTV as having said.
Officials said the organisers were not expecting such a huge crowd to throng the venue.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who represents Varanasi constituency has expressed grief over the loss of lives in stampede.
“Deeply saddened by the loss of lives in the stampede in Varanasi. Condolences to the bereaved families. Prayers with those injured,” Modi wrote on twitter. “I have spoken to officials and asked them to ensure all possible help to those affected due to the stampede in Varanasi.”
Modi is currently attending meeting of BRICS nations in western state of Goa.
Video footage on TV news channels showed colorful clothing and slippers scattered on the spot.
Modi has announced compensation of 2998 U.S. dollars to the kin of each deceased in the incident, while as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister has announced compensation of 7495 U.S. dollars for the families of deceased.
Last Sunday three people were killed and over two dozen injured during stampede at a political rally organised by regional Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).