July 14, 2024

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India: More than 100 killed in religious event, local police say

India: More than 100 killed in religious event, local police say

Reuters

Crowds gather outside the emergency department at Ita Hospital.


New Delhi
CNN

More than 100 people were killed in a stampede during a religious gathering in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, local police and administrative officials said.

The incident took place at a prayer meeting, known as satsang, in Mughal Garhi village in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh state, officials said. India The most populous state is located about 200 kilometres (124 miles) southeast of the capital, New Delhi.

The state’s chief secretary, Manoj Kumar Singh, told reporters that 108 women and seven children were among the dead. He said about 72 people had been identified so far. At least 18 people were injured.

Local officials said overcrowding was the cause of the accident, which led to people falling into sewers.

Singh told reporters that Tuesday’s rally organizers had filed a request stating that “an estimated 80,000 people” were supposed to attend the rally. However, “a much larger number than expected” turned out, he said.

The deadly scenes occurred after the ceremony ended, when a large number of people went to “touch the feet (of the religious figure) or collect soil from the place,” according to local tradition. People then started falling into the nearby open sewer. “People started falling into the sewer and on top of each other,” Singh said.

Organizers were accused of failing to comply with a list of requirements set by the region. A high-level investigation has been opened to look into the circumstances surrounding the incident and a police report will be filed against the event organizers for allegedly exceeding permitted attendance levels, according to local officials.

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“There has been a major shortcoming on the part of the organizers, and they will face severe punishment,” he said.

Survivors described the horrific incident that followed. “People started falling on top of each other, on top of each other. Those who were crushed died. People there pulled them out,” Shakuntala Devi told the Press Trust of India news agency, according to the Associated Press.

Bodies of at least 27 of the dead have been shifted to the Etah district morgue, while the rest are in Hathras, said Inspector General Shalabh Mathur of neighbouring Ambala Range.

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Inspector General Mathur added that efforts are underway to provide medical care to the injured and arrangements are being made for post-mortem examinations at various locations.

A video posted by Reuters showed crowds gathering outside a local hospital in Ita, where grieving families wept over the victims. Medical staff were seen carrying people on stretchers.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences in a speech in the lower house of India’s bicameral parliament, known as the Lok Sabha.

Modi said the government was engaged in “relief and rescue work” and was coordinating with the state government. “The victims will be helped in every way,” he added.

Hathras District Magistrate Ashish Kumar told reporters that the incident occurred as people were leaving the event held to celebrate the Hindu god Shiva.

The district magistrate said police had given permission for the private event and officials had been tasked with “maintaining law and order and security”, but internal arrangements were being handled by the organisers.

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He added that the investigation into the incident will be conducted by a newly formed high-level committee.

New Year’s Crush In January 2022 At one of India’s holiest shrines in Jammu, in the north of the country, at least 12 people were killed.

This story has been updated with additional information.