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123 dead in India’s temple stampede

Posted by By Sun News Publishing on 2008/08/05 | Views: 2526 |

123 dead in India’s temple stampede


More than 123 Hindu worshippers were killed Sunday in a stampede during a religious festival in the northern Indian hill state of Himachal Pradesh.

More than 123 Hindu worshippers were killed Sunday in a stampede during a religious festival in the northern Indian hill state of Himachal Pradesh.
Most people died of suffocation, and about 30 of the dead were children, officials said."One hundred and twenty-three people have died," said D.S Minhas, the state's additional director general of police.

The Press Trust of India news agency said 145 people had died and 50 were injured.The accident took place at the famed Naina Devi temple, situated about 150 kilometres (90 miles) from state capital Shimla and where tens of thousands of people have been gathering for the festival that began Saturday.

The stampede occurred after a railing at the popular shrine collapsed under the weight of devotees, sending many people falling down a narrow, steep staircase leading to the hilltop temple. A major panic and crush ensued.The bodies of devotees were piled up on the road leading to the temple, witnesses said.

Police said nearly 50,000 worshippers were expected daily during the week-long festival, but many more had turned up on Sunday, leading to a massive rush at the pilgrimage centre in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Many of the deceased were from neighbouring Punjab state and had already been taken to their home state when police arrived at the scene.Additional police from Punjab had been requested to help at the site, where relief work was hampered by rain.

Television pictures showed that the temple where pilgrims offer prayers to the goddess Nanda Devi was massively overcrowded. "A lot of people were confined in a small area," said district deputy commissioner C.P. Verma.

Temple crushes are common during festivities in India, where crowd control management is often rudimentary at best.Six people died in a similar accident at a popular Hindu festival in July in the eastern state of Orissa, where about a million people had gathered in Puri town for an annual celebration.
In March, nine people were killed and many more injured at a religious gathering in central India when a railing broke at the temple premises, leading to a stampede among 100,000 devotees.

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