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Stampede at religious gathering in India leaves at least 116 people dead
Posted by Temmy
Wed, July 03, 2024 2:20pm


Stampede at religious gathering in India leaves at least 116 people dead
Women mourn next to the body of a relative outside the Sikandrarao hospital in Hathras district, Uttar Pradesh state, India, July 2, 2024, after dozens of people were killed and scores injured in a stampede at a religious gathering. MANOJ ALIGADI/AP

At least 116 people were killed in a stampede at a religious gathering in central India's Uttar Pradesh state Tuesday, police said. Most of the victims appeared to have been women, but authorities were still racing to confirm the number of casualties brought in to different hospitals in the region.

The stampede occurred during a "satsang," a prayer meeting hosted by a Hindu guru, in the village of Rati Bhanpur in the state's Hathras area. Thousands of the guru's devotees showed up to listen to his address, crowding under tents to avoid the harsh sun, before there was a panic and people started running.

Hathras District Magistrate Ashish Kumar said the local community health center had confirmed between 50 and 60 deaths among residents of the district alone, and Uttar Pradesh Police Inspector General Shalabh Mathur later confirmed at least 116 deaths in total.

It was not immediately clear what caused the panic, but some eyewitnesses told local media outlets that the stampede started when the event ended and people rushed to leave the venue.

Videos shared widely on social media showed dozens of bodies, mostly women, being brought to regional hospitals.

The top official in Uttar Pradesh state, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, ordered an investigation into the incident as residents started voicing anger and allegations that proper arrangements had not been made for the large gathering, which was held amid hot and humid conditions.

Senior police officer Shalabh Mathur said a "temporary permission" had been provided for the religious event hosted by the local guru, a Hindu preacher who goes by the name Bhole Baba.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Uttar Pradesh state government was providing all possible help to the victims.

Opposition Congress party leader Pawan Khera accused the state government, which is run by Modi's Bhartiya Janata Party, of being unprepared for the event. He said the hospitals where the injured were sent didn't have enough doctors or facilities to treat them.

Stampedes at religious events in India are not uncommon, as the gatherings are mostly managed privately, and often without adequate safety or crowd control measures put in place.

One of India's deadliest stampedes at a religious event was in 2005, when more than 340 people died at the Mandhardevi temple in the western state of Maharashtra. More than 250 people died in another stampede at Rajasthan state's Chamunda Devi temple in 2008. In the same year, more than 160 people died in a stampede at a religious gathering at the Naina Devi temple in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh.

People mourn next to the bodies of victims of a stampede at a Hindu religious event, outside a hospital in Hathras district, in the northern India state of Uttar Pradesh, July 2, 2024
People mourn next to the bodies of victims of a stampede at a Hindu religious event, outside a hospital in Hathras district, in the northern India state of Uttar Pradesh, July 2, 2024. STRINGER/REUTERS





 

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